Is Eating Raw Eggs Safe and Healthy?

Eggs are one of the world’s healthiest foods.

They contain numerous important nutrients and can provide you with impressive health benefits.

Raw eggs do have all the same benefits as cooked eggs.

However, eating raw eggs or foods containing them raises concerns about the risk of Salmonella infection.

Also, your absorption of some nutrients may be reduced or even blocked completely.

Raw Eggs Are Nutritious

Just like cooked eggs, raw eggs are extremely nutritious.

They’re rich in high-quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, eye-protecting antioxidants and various other nutrients.

One whole, large raw egg (50 grams) contains (1):

  • Calories: 72.
  • Protein: 6 grams.
  • Fat: 5 grams.
  • Vitamin A: 9% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 13% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 8% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): 7% of the RDI.
  • Selenium: 22% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus: 10% of the RDI.
  • Folate: 6% of the RDI.

In addition, one raw egg contains 147 mg of choline, an essential nutrient important for healthy brain function. Choline may also play a role in heart health (2, 3, 4).

Raw eggs are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin. These important antioxidants protect your eyes and may reduce your risk of age-related eye diseases (5).

It’s important to note that almost all the nutrients are concentrated in the yolk. The white mostly consists of protein.Bottom Line: Raw eggs are a nutrient-dense food packed with protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that protect your eyes. They’re also an excellent source of choline. The yolks contain most of the nutrients.

The Protein in Them Isn’t as Well-Absorbed

Raw Egg Half Open

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein in your diet.

In fact, eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids in the right ratios. For this reason, they’re often referred to as a “complete” protein source.

However, eating the eggs raw may decrease your absorption of these quality proteins.

One small study compared the absorption of protein from both cooked and raw eggs in 5 people (6).

The study found that 90% of protein in cooked eggs was absorbed, but only 50% in raw eggs. In other words, protein in cooked eggs was 80% more digestible.

Although protein is better absorbed from cooked eggs, some other nutrients may be slightly reduced by cooking. These include vitamin A, vitamin B5, phosphorus and potassium.

Bottom Line: Research indicates protein in cooked eggs is much more digestible than protein in raw eggs. If you eat them raw then your body may not be able to absorb all the protein.

Raw Egg Whites May Block Biotin Absorption

Three Raw Eggs in a Glass

Biotin is a water-soluble B-vitamin, also known as vitamin B7.

This vitamin is involved in your body’s production of glucose and fatty acids. It’s also important during pregnancy (7).

While egg yolks provide a good dietary source of biotin, raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin. Avidin binds to biotin in the small intestine, preventing its absorption (8, 9, 10).

Because heat destroys avidin, this is not an issue when the egg has been cooked.

In any case, even if you eat raw eggs, it’s highly unlikely it will lead to actual biotin deficiency. For that to happen, you would need to consume raw eggs in large amounts — at least a dozen per day for a long period of time (11). Bottom Line: Raw egg whites contain the protein avidin, which may block absorption of biotin, a water-soluble B-vitamin. However, it’s unlikely to cause deficiency unless you eat a lot of raw eggs

Raw Eggs May Be Contaminated with Bacteria

Raw Egg Cracked Open, Isolated

Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella, a type of harmful bacteria (12).

This bacteria can be found on egg shells but also inside eggs (13).

Consuming contaminated eggs can cause food poisoning.

Symptoms of food poisoning include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, fever and headache. These symptoms usually appear 6 to 48 hours after eating and may last 3 to 7 days (14).

Fortunately, the risk of an egg being contaminated is very low. One study found only 1 of every 30,000 eggs produced in the US is contaminated (15).

However, from the 1970s through the 1990s, contaminated egg shells were the most common source of Salmonella infection (16, 17, 18).

Since then, some improvements have been made in the processing of eggs, leading to fewer Salmonella cases and outbreaks.

These changes include pasteurization. This process uses heat treatment to reduce the number of bacteria and other microorganisms in foods (19).

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers it safe to use raw eggs if they are pasteurized.

Bottom Line: Raw eggs may contain a type of pathogenic bacteria called Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. However, the risk of an egg being contaminated is quite low.

Bacterial Infection Is More Dangerous for Certain People

Salmonella infection is more of a concern in certain populations. In some people, it can have serious or even fatal consequences.

These include (20):

  • Infants and young children: The youngest age group is more susceptible to infections due to immature immune systems.
  • Pregnant women: In rare cases, Salmonella may cause cramps in the uterus of pregnant women that can lead to premature birth or stillbirth (21).
  • The elderly: People over the age of 65 are more likely to die from food-borne infections. Contributing factors include malnutrition and age-related changes in the digestive system (22).
  • Immune-compromised individuals: The immune system is weaker and more vulnerable to infections in people with chronic disease. People with diabetes, HIV and malignant tumors are among those who should not eat raw eggs (23).

These groups should avoid eating raw eggs and foods that contain them. Homemade foods that often contain them include mayonnaise, cake icings and ice cream.Bottom Line: Infants, pregnant women, older adults and other high-risk groups should avoid eating raw eggs. In these groups, Salmonella infection may lead to serious, life-threatening complications.

How to Minimize The Risk of Bacterial Infection

Two Raw Eggs in a Glass

It’s not possible to completely eliminate the risk of infection from eating raw eggs. However, there are ways to reduce it (24).

Here are a few effective tips:

  • Buy pasteurized eggs and egg products, which are available in some supermarkets.
  • Only buy eggs kept in the refrigerated food section of the grocery store.
  • Keep eggs refrigerated in your home. Storing them at room temperature may induce rapid growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Don’t buy or consume eggs past their expiration date.
  • Get rid of cracked or dirty eggs.

However, the only sure way to eliminate the risk is to cook your eggs thoroughly.

Bottom Line: Buying pasteurized and refridgerated eggs can lower the risk of Salmonella infection. Proper storage and handling after you purchase them is also important.

Take Home Message

Raw eggs do have all the same benefits as cooked eggs.

However, protein absorption is lower from raw eggs, and the uptake of biotin may be prevented.

Most concerning is the small risk of raw eggs contaminated with bacteria leading to Salmonella infection. Buying pasteurized eggs will lower your risk of infection.

Whether eating raw eggs is worth the risk is something you need to decide for yourself.

Just remember that very young children, pregnant women, elderly people and individuals with weak immune systems should not eat them.

 

Meat: Good or Bad?

Meat is a highly controversial food.

On one hand, it’s a staple in many diets and is a great source of protein and important nutrients.

On the other hand, some people believe eating it is unhealthy, unethical and unnecessary.

This article takes a detailed look at the health benefits and potential risks of eating meat.

What Is Meat?

Meat is the flesh of animals that humans prepare and consume as food.

In the US and many other countries, the term mainly refers to muscle tissue. It is typically consumed as steak, chops, ribs, roast or in ground form, like hamburger.

In the past, offal such as liver, kidneys, brains and intestines were commonly enjoyed in most cultures. However, most Western diets now exclude them.

Nevertheless, offal remains popular in some parts of the world, particularly among traditional societies. Many delicacies are also based on organs.

Foie gras is made from duck or goose liver. Sweetbreads are thymus glands and pancreas. And menudo is a soup made from intestines.

Today, most meat worldwide comes from domesticated animals raised on farms, mainly large industrial complexes that often house thousands of animals at a time.

However, in some traditional cultures, hunting animals remains the sole means for obtaining it.

Different Types

Types of meat are categorized by their animal source and how they are prepared.

Red Meat

Cut Pieces of Red Meat

This comes from mammals and contains more of the iron-rich protein myoglobin in its tissue than white meat. Examples include:

  • Beef (cattle).
  • Pork (pigs and hogs).
  • Lamb.
  • Veal (calves).
  • Goat.
  • Game, such as bison, elk and venison (deer).

White Meat

Raw Turkey Breast

This is generally lighter in color than red meat and comes from birds and small game. Examples include:

  • Chicken.
  • Turkey.
  • Duck.
  • Goose.
  • Wild birds, such as quail and pheasant.
  • Rabbit.

Processed Meat

Sliced Salami

Processed meat has been modified through salting, curing, smoking, drying or other processes to preserve it or enhance flavor. Examples include:

  • Hot dogs.
  • Sausage.
  • Bacon.
  • Luncheon meats, such as bologna, salami and pastrami.
  • Jerky.

Bottom Line: Meat comes from a variety of different animals and is classified as either red or white, depending

Nutrients in Meat

Three Cuts of Meat on a Marble Table

Lean meat is considered an excellent protein source. It contains about 25-30% protein by weight after cooking.

3.5 oz (100 grams) of cooked chicken breast contains about 31 grams of protein. The same serving of lean beef contains about 27 grams (1, 2).

Animal protein is a complete protein, meaning it provides all 9 essential amino acids.

A 3.5-oz (100-gram) portion of lean beef provides (2):

  • Calories: 205.
  • Protein: About 27 grams.
  • Riboflavin: 11% of the RDI.
  • Niacin: 19% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B6: 16% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B12: 19% of the RDI.
  • Niacin: 63% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus: 24% of the RDI.
  • Zinc: 50% of the RDI.
  • Selenium: 28% of the RDI.

The nutrient profiles of other muscle meats are similar, although they contain less zinc. Interestingly, pork is especially high in the vitamin thiamine, providing 63% of the RDI per 3.5 oz (100 grams) (3).

Liver and other organs are also high in vitamin A, vitamin B12, iron and selenium. They’re also an excellent source of choline, an important nutrient for brain, muscle and liver health (4).on the source. Processed products have been modified with additives to enhance flavor.

Cooking Methods and Effects on Carcinogens

Cooking and preparing meats in certain ways may negatively affect your health.

When they’re grilled, barbecued or smoked at high temperatures, fat is released and drips onto hot cooking surfaces.

This produces toxic compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that can rise up and seep into the meat.

PAHs are carcinogenic, meaning they can cause cancer. However, minimizing smoke and quickly wiping away drippings can reduce PAH formation by up to 89% (5, 6, 7).

Heterocyclic amines (HAs) are formed when meat is heated to high temperatures and forms a dark crust. HA levels have been shown to rise during extended cooking times and with lengthy cooling down after cooking (8, 9).

Nitrates are additives in processed meats that were formerly considered carcinogenic, but are now considered harmless or even beneficial.

However, researchers disagree about whether similar additives known as nitrites (with an “i”) increase cancer risk (10, 11).

Bottom Line: Cooking food at high temperatures or for long periods of time can increase the production of toxic byproducts capable of causing cancer.

Meat and Cancer

Three Pieces of Meat on a Two Pronged Fork

Many people claim that eating meat raises cancer risk. However, this largely depends on the type you eat and how it’s cooked.

Is Red Meat Bad?

Some observational studies link a high red meat intake to several types of cancer, including digestive tract, prostate, kidney and breast cancers (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19).

However, in nearly every study, the association was between cancer and well-done meat, PAHs or HAs, rather than red meat itself. These studies indicate that high-heat cooking had a very strong effect.

Of all cancers, colon cancer has the strongest association with red meat intake, with dozens of studies reporting a connection.

Aside from a few studies that didn’t distinguish between processed and fresh meat or cooking method, increased risk seems to occur mostly with higher intake of processed and well-done meat (20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25).

In a 2011 analysis of 25 studies, researchers concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support a clear-cut link between red meat and colon cancer (22).

Other Factors That May Affect Cancer Risk

While red meat cooked at high temperatures may increase cancer risk, white meat doesn’t seem to. In fact, one study found that poultry consumption was linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, even when cooked to the point of charring (20, 22, 24).

Animal and observational studies suggest that, in addition to toxic compounds created during high-heat cooking, heme iron found in red meat may play a role in colon cancer development (26, 27).

In addition, some researchers believe processed meat may potentially lead to inflammation in the colon that increases cancer risk (28).

In one study, adding calcium or vitamin E to cured meat reduced levels of toxic end-products in the feces of humans and rats. What’s more, these nutrients were found to improve pre-cancerous colon lesions in the rats (29).

It’s important to realize that because these studies are observational, they can only show a relationship and cannot prove that red or processed meat causes cancer.

However, it definitely seems wise to limit your consumption of processed meat. If you choose to eat red meat, then use gentler cooking methods and avoid burning it.

Bottom Line: Observational studies have shown a link between well-done or processed meat and increased risk of cancer, especially colon cancer.

Meat and Heart Disease

Knife Cutting Grilled Meat

Several large observational studies exploring meat intake and heart disease have found an increased risk with processed products. Only one study found a weak association for red meat alone (30, 31, 32, 33).

In 2010, researchers performed a massive review of 20 studies with over 1.2 million people. They found that consuming processed — but not red — meat appeared to increase heart disease risk by 42% (30).

However, these studies don’t prove that a high intake of processed meat causes heart disease. They only suggest that there may be a relationship.

Some controlled studies have found that frequent meat consumption, including high-fat varieties, has had a neutral or positive effect on heart disease risk factors (34, 35).

Bottom Line: Processed meat has been linked to heart disease in some studies, while controlled studies have shown that meat may have a neutral or beneficial effect.

Meat and Type 2 Diabetes

Several large studies have also shown an association between processed or red meat and type 2 diabetes (30, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41).

One review of three studies found that consuming more than half a serving of red meat daily increased the risk of developing diabetes within four years by 30%, in part related to weight gain (37).

However, it’s entirely possible that the people who ended up with diabetes had engaged in unhealthy behaviors, such as consuming too many refined carbs, eating too few vegetables or simply overeating in general.

In studies on low-carb diets, which tend to be high in meat, blood sugar levels and other diabetes markers tend to go down (42).

Bottom Line: Some observational studies show a relationship between red and processed meats and increased diabetes risk. However, this may also depend on other dietary factors.

Meat, Weight Control and Obesity

Fork and Knife on Green Scales

A high intake of red and processed meat has been linked to obesity in several observational studies.

This includes a review of 39 studies with data from over 1.1 million people (43).

However, the results from individual studies varied greatly (43).

In one study, researchers found that although there was a relationship between frequent red meat consumption and obesity, people who ate the most also took in about 700 more calories daily than those who ate less (44).

Again, these studies are observational and don’t account for other types and amounts of food consumed on a regular basis.

And although red meat is frequently linked to obesity and weight gain while white meat isn’t, one controlled study found no difference in weight changes among overweight people assigned to eat beef, pork or chicken for three months (45).

Another study in people with prediabetes found that weight loss and body composition improvements were similar whether subjects consumed diets based on animal or plant protein (46).

Consuming fresh, whole foods appears to benefit weight loss, regardless of whether meat is consumed or not.

In one study, 10 obese postmenopausal women followed an unrestricted paleo diet with 30% of calories as mainly animal protein, including meat. After five weeks, weight decreased by 10 lbs (4.5 kg) and belly fat decreased by 8%, on average (47).

Bottom Line: While some observational studies have linked red and processed meat intake to obesity, overall calorie intake is key. Controlled studies have shown that weight loss can occur despite high meat intake.

Benefits of Eating Meat

Eating meat has several health benefits:

  • Reduced appetite and increased metabolism: Many studies have shown that high-protein diets that include meat increase metabolic rate, reduce hunger and promote fullness (48, 49, 50, 51).
  • Retention of muscle mass: Animal protein intake is consistently linked to increased muscle mass. In one study in older women, eating beef increased muscle mass and also reduced markers of inflammation (52, 53, 54, 55, 56).
  • Stronger bones: Animal protein may improve bone density and strength. In one study, older women with the highest intake of animal protein had a 69% decreased risk of hip fractures (57, 58).
  • Better iron absorption: Meat contains heme iron, which your body absorbs better than non-heme iron from plants (59, 60, 61).

    Bottom Line: Meat has benefits for appetite, metabolism, iron absorption and the health of your muscles and bones.

    Ethical and Environmental Perspectives

    Man's Hands Touching a Leg of Lamb on a Chopping Board

    Some people choose not to eat meat because they don’t believe in killing animals for food when there are other ways to meet nutrition needs.

    This is a valid point of view that should be respected.

    Others object to animals being raised in large, industrial complexes that are sometimes referred to as “factory farms,” which is also very understandable.

    These farms are overcrowded and often don’t allow animals to get sufficient exercise, sunlight or room to move. To prevent infection, livestock are often given antibiotics, which can lead to antibiotic resistance (62, 63).

    Many animals are given steroid hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone to speed growth. This raises additional health and ethical concerns (64).

    The environmental effects of factory farming have also been criticized, particularly the waste produced during raising and slaughtering, as well as the high cost of grain-based meat production (63, 65, 66, 67).

    Fortunately, there are alternatives. You can support small farms that raise animals humanely, don’t use antibiotics or hormones and provide their animals with natural diets.

    Bottom Line: Some object to killing animals for food, inhumane conditions on industrial farms or the environmental effects of raising livestock.

    How to Maximize Benefits and Minimize Negative Effects

    Bowl of Salad With Chicken

    Here’s how to ensure you’re consuming meat in a way that’s healthiest for you and the planet:

    • Choose fresh products: Fresh meat will always be healthier for you than processed varieties.
    • Give organ meats a try: Add these to your diet to take advantage of their high nutrient content.
    • Minimize high-heat cooking: If you grill, barbecue or use another high-heat method, wipe away drippings right away and avoid overcooking or charring.
    • Consume unprocessed, plant-based foods: These are high in fiber, contain valuable antioxidants and help make your diet well balanced.
    • Choose organic meat from small farms: This is more environmentally friendly and better from an ethical perspective.
    • Select grass-fed beef: Cattle that consume a natural diet of grass, rather than grain, produce meat that is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants (68, 69, 70).

    Bottom Line: To maximize benefits and and minimize risk, choose fresh meat, avoid high-heat cooking, include plant foods in your diet and choose organic or grass-fed whenever possible.

    Should You Eat Meat?

    Unprocessed and properly cooked meat has many nutrients and may have some health benefits. If you enjoy eating meat, then there is no compelling health or nutritional reason to stop.

    However, if you don’t feel right about eating animals, you can also stay healthy by following a well-balanced vegetarian diet.

    Ultimately, whether you consume meat is a personal choice and one that others should respect.

 

A Look into Essential Oils

mojatueomaster

Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy, which is a form of alternative medicine.

However, some of the health claims associated with them are controversial.

 

What Are Essential Oils?

 

Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants. The oils capture the plant’s scent and flavor, also called its “essence.” Unique aromatic compounds give each essential oil its characteristic essence.

 

Essential oils are obtained through distillation (via steam and/or water) or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing. Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they are combined with a carrier oil to create a product that’s ready for use.

 

The way the oils are made is important, as essential oils obtained through chemical processes are not considered true essential oils.

 

Bottom Line: Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor, or “essence,” of their source.

 

How Do Essential Oils Work?

 

Essential oils are most commonly used in the practice of aromatherapy. They are either inhaled through the nose or mouth, or rubbed on the skin. They can occasionally be ingested, although this approach isn’t always safe and is not recommended.

 

The chemicals in essential oils can interact with your body in a number of ways. When applied to your skin, some plant chemicals are absorbed. It’s thought that certain methods can improve absorption, such as applying with heat or to different areas of the body. However, research in this area is lacking.

 

Inhaling the aromas from essential oils can stimulate areas of your limbic system, which is a part of your brain that plays a role in emotions, behaviors, sense of smell and long-term memory. Interestingly, the limbic system is heavily involved in forming memories. This can partly explain why familiar smells can trigger memories or emotions.

 

Bottom Line: Essential oils can be inhaled or applied to the skin. They may stimulate your sense of smell or have medicinal effects when absorbed.

 

Popular Types

 

There are more than 90 types of essential oils, each with its own unique smell and potential health benefits.

 

Here’s a list of 10 popular essential oils and the health claims associated with them:

Peppermint: Used to boost energy and help with digestion.

Lavender: Used for stress relief.

Sandalwood: Used to calm nerves and help with focus.

Bergamot: Used to reduce stress and improve skin conditions like eczema.

Rose: Used to improve mood and reduce anxiety.

Chamomile: Used for improving mood and relaxation.

Ylang-Ylang: Used to treat headaches, nausea and skin conditions.

Tea Tree: Used to fight infections and boost immunity.

Jasmine: Used to help with depression, childbirth and libido.

Lemon: Used to aid digestion, mood, headaches and more.

Bottom Line: There are over 90 essential oils, each with its own health claims. Popular oils include peppermint, lavender and sandalwood.

 

Health Benefits of Essential Oils

 

Despite their widespread use, little is known about the effectiveness of essential oils in treating health conditions. Here’s a look at the evidence for some of the common health problems that essential oils and aromatherapy have been used to treat.

 

Stress, Anxiety and Depression

 

It has been estimated that 43% of people who have stress and anxiety use some form of alternative therapy to help with their condition. Interestingly, using essential oils during a massage may help relieve stress, although the effects may only last while the massage is taking place.

 

Headaches and Migraines

 

In the ’90s, two small studies found that dabbing a peppermint oil and ethanol mixture on participants’ foreheads and temples relieved headache pain.

 

Sleep and Insomnia

 

Smelling lavender oil has been shown to positively affect the sleep quality of women after childbirth, as well as patients with heart disease.

 

Reducing Inflammation

 

It has been suggested that essential oils may help fight inflammatory conditions. Some test-tube studies show that they have anti-inflammatory effects.

 

However, very few human studies have examined the effects of these oils on inflammatory diseases. Their effectiveness and safety are unknown.

 

Antibiotic and Antimicrobial

 

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has renewed interest in the search for other compounds that can fight bacterial infections. Essential oils, such as peppermint and tea tree oil, have been investigated extensively in test tubes for their antimicrobial effects. In fact, they have shown some positive results.

 

However, while test-tube study results are interesting, they only show theories that need further exploration. They don’t prove that a particular essential oil could effectively treat bacterial infections in humans.

 

Bottom Line: Essential oils may have some interesting applications for health. However, more research is needed in humans.

 

Other Uses

 

Essential oils have many uses outside of aromatherapy. Many people use them to scent their homes or freshen up things like laundry.

 

They are also used as a natural scent in homemade cosmetics and high-quality natural products. It has also been suggested that essential oils could provide a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to man-made mosquito repellents, such as DEET.

 

However, results of their effectiveness have been mixed.

Some studies have shown that some oils, such as citronella, may effectively repel certain types of mosquitoes for around 2 hours. Protection time may be extended up to 3 hours when it is used in combination with vanillin. Despite this, no oils have been as effective as DEET at preventing bites from all species of mosquito for long periods of time.

 

The properties of essential oils also indicate that some of them could be used industrially for extending the shelf life of foods.

 

Bottom Line: Aromatherapy isn’t the only use for essential oils. They can be used in and around the home, as a natural mosquito repellent or industrially to make cosmetics or preserve food.

 

How to Choose The Right Essential Oils

 

Given that it is an unregulated industry, the quality and composition of essential oils can vary greatly. 

 

Keep the following tips in mind in order to choose only high-quality oils:

Purity: Find an oil that contains only aromatic plant compounds, without additives or synthetic oils. Pure oils usually list the plant’s botanical name (such as Lavandula officinalis), rather than terms like “essential oil of lavender.”

Quality: True essential oils are the ones that have been changed the least by the extraction process. Choose a chemical-free essential oil that has been extracted through distillation or mechanical cold pressing.

Reputation: Purchase a brand with a reputation for producing high-quality products.

Bottom Line: High-quality oils only use pure plant compounds extracted by distillation or cold pressing. Avoid oils that have been diluted with synthetic fragrances, chemicals or oils.

Safety and Side Effects

 

Take Home Message

 

Essential oils are generally considered safe to inhale or apply to the skin, as long as they’ve been combined with a base oil.

 

However, the evidence for many of the health claims is lacking, and their effectiveness is often exaggerated. For minor health problems, using essential oils as a complementary therapy is probably ok. But if you have a serious health condition or are taking medication, you should discuss their use with your doctor.

 

 

Source: Authority Nutrition

9 Healthy Foods that are High in Vitamin D

9 Healthy Foods that are High in Vitamin D

Vitamin D is unique, because it can be obtained from food and sun exposure.

However, up to 50% of the world’s population may not get enough sunlight, and 40% of people in the US are deficient in vitamin D

This is partly because people spend more time indoors, wear sunblock outside and eat a Western diet low in good sources of this vitamin.

Here are 9 healthy foods that are high in vitamin D.

1. Salmon

Salmon is a popular fatty fish and also a great source of vitamin D.

According to nutrient databases, one 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving of salmon contains between 361 and 685 IU of vitamin D

However, it is usually not specified whether salmon is wild or farmed. This might not seem important, but it can make a big difference.

One study found that wild-caught salmon contains 988 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving, on average. That’s 247% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)

Farmed salmon contained only 25% of that amount, on average. Still, that means a serving of farmed salmon contains about 250 IU of vitamin D, which is 63% of the RDI

Bottom Line: Wild salmon is better.

2. Herring and Sardines

Herring is a fish eaten around the world. It can be served raw, canned, smoked or pickled.

It’s also one of the best sources of vitamin D.

Fresh Atlantic herring provides 1,628 IU per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving, which is four times the RDI

If fresh fish isn’t your thing, pickled herring is also a great source of vitamin D, providing 680 IU per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving. That’s 170% of the RDI.

Sardines are another type of herring that is also a good source of vitamin D. One serving contains 272 IU, which is 68% of the RDI

Other types of fatty fish are also good vitamin D sources. Halibut provides 600 IU per serving and mackerel provides 360 IU per serving

Be warned, these food come with a lot of salt, so definitely limit and watch your intake.

Bottom Line: Herring contains 1,628 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving. Pickled herring, sardines and other fatty fish such as halibut and mackerel are also good sources.

3. Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is a popular supplement. If you don’t like fish, taking cod liver oil can be a good way to obtain certain nutrients that are hard to get from other sources.

At about 450 IU per teaspoon (4.9 ml), cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin D. It’s been used for many years to prevent and treat deficiency in children

However, it’s best to be cautious with cod liver oil and not take more than you need.

Bottom Line: Cod liver oil contains 450 IU of vitamin D per teaspoon (4.9 ml). It is also high in other nutrients, such as vitamin A.

4. Canned Tuna

Many people enjoy canned tuna because of its light flavour and the fact that it can be kept on-hand in the pantry.

It is also usually cheaper than buying fresh fish.

Canned light tuna contains up to 236 IU of vitamin D in a 100-gram (3.5-oz) serving, which is more than half of the RDI.

Light tuna is typically a better choice than white tuna.

Bottom Line: Canned tuna contains 236 IU of vitamin D per serving. Choose light tuna and eat 6 oz or less per week

5. Oysters

Oysters are a type of clam that live in salt water. They are delicious, low in calories and full of nutrients.

 

One 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving of wild oysters has only 68 calories, but contains 320 IU of vitamin D, or 80% of the RDI.

In addition, one serving of oysters contains 2–6 times more than the RDI of vitamin B12, copper and zinc — far more than multivitamins contain.

Bottom Line: Oysters are full of nutrients and provide 320 IU of vitamin D. They also contain more vitamin B12, copper and zinc than a multivitamin.

6. Shrimp

Shrimp are a popular type of shellfish.

Yet unlike most other seafood sources of vitamin D, shrimp are very low in fat.

Despite this fact, they still contain a good amount of vitamin D — 152 IU per serving, or 38% of the RDI

Bottom Line: Shrimp contain 152 IU of vitamin D per serving and are also very low in fat. They do contain cholesterol, but this is not a cause for concern.

7. Egg Yolks

Luckily for people who don’t like fish, seafood is not the only source of vitamin D. Whole eggs are another good source, as well as a wonderfully nutritious food.

While most of the protein in an egg is found in the egg white, the fat, vitamins and minerals are found mostly in the egg yolk.

One conventionally grown egg yolk contains between 18 and 39 IU of vitamin D, which isn’t very high

However, pasture-raised chickens that roam outside in the sunlight produce eggs with levels that are three to four times higher

Choosing eggs that are either from chickens raised outside or that are marketed as high in vitamin D can be a great way to help meet your daily requirements.

Bottom Line: Eggs from commercially raised hens contain only about 30 IU of vitamin D per yolk. However, eggs from hens raised outside or fed vitamin D-enriched feed contain much higher levels.

8. Mushrooms

Excluding fortified foods, mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D.

Similar to humans, mushrooms can synthesize this vitamin when exposed to UV light

Some varieties contain up to 2,300 IU per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving.

Commercially grown mushrooms, on the other hand, are often grown in the dark and contain very little vitamin D2.

Bottom Line: Only wild mushrooms or mushrooms treated with UV light are good sources of vitamin D.

9. Fortified Foods

Natural sources of vitamin D are limited, especially if you’re a vegetarian or don’t like fish.

Fortunately, some foods that don’t naturally contain vitamin D are fortified with it.

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk, the type of milk that most people drink, is naturally a good source of many nutrients including calcium, phosphorous and riboflavin

In several countries, cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D. It usually contains about 130 IU per cup (237 ml), or about 33% of the RDI.

Soy Milk

Because vitamin D is found almost exclusively in animal products, vegetarians and vegans are at particularly high risk of not getting enough of it.

For this reason, plant-based milks such as soy milk are also often fortified with it, as well as other vitamins and minerals usually found in cow’s milk.

Orange Juice

Around 75% of people worldwide are lactose intolerant, and another 2–3% have a milk allergy

For this reason, some countries fortify orange juice with vitamin D and other nutrients, such as calcium.

One cup (237 ml) of fortified orange juice for breakfast can start your day off with up to 142 IU of vitamin D, or 36% of the RDI

Cereal and Oatmeal

 

Certain cereals and instant oatmeal are also fortified with vitamin D.One half-cup serving of these foods can provide between 55 and 154 IU, or up to 39% of the RDI

 

Although fortified cereals and oatmeal provide less vitamin D than many natural sources, they can still be a good way to boost your intake.

Bottom Line: Some foods are fortified with vitamin D, including cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, cereals and oatmeal. They contain between 55 and 130 IU per serving.

Take Home Message

Spending some time outside in the sun is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D. However, getting sufficient sun exposure is not possible for many people.

Getting enough from your diet alone is difficult, but not impossible.

Eating plenty of these vitamin D-rich foods is a great way to make sure you get enough of this important nutrient.

Lower Blood Sugar Easier than Thought

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High blood sugar occurs when your body can’t effectively transport sugar from blood into cells. When left unchecked, this can lead to diabetes.

One study from 2012 reported that 12–14% of US adults had type 2 diabetes, while 37–38% were classified as pre-diabetic. This means that 50% of all US adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

 

Fortunately, you could lower blood sugar levels naturally though some easy ways:

1. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help you lose weight and increase insulin sensitivity, which means that cells are more able to use the available sugar in the bloodstream. Exercise also helps the muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction.

Good forms of exercise include weight lifting, brisk walking, running, biking, dancing, hiking, swimming and more.

Bottom Line: Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and helps your muscles pick up sugars from the blood. This can lead to reduced blood sugar levels.

2. Control your carb intake

The body breaks carbs down into sugars (mostly glucose), and then insulin moves the sugars into cells. When eating too many carbs or have problems with insulin function, this process fails and blood glucose levels rise.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends controlling carb intake by counting carbs or using a food exchange system. Some studies find that these methods can also help plan your meals appropriately, which may further improve blood sugar control.

Bottom Line: Carbs are broken down into glucose, which raises blood sugar levels. Reducing carbohydrate intake can help with blood sugar control.

3. Increase your fiber intake

Fiber slows carb digestion and sugar absorption. For these reasons, it can help blood sugar rise in a steadier way.

Furthermore, the type of fiber taken in may play a role. There are two kinds of fiber: insoluble and soluble. While both are important, soluble fiber specifically has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.

The recommended daily intake of fiber is about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That’s about 14 grams for every 1,000 calories.

Bottom Line: Eating plenty of fiber can help with blood sugar control, and soluble dietary fiber is the most effective.

4. Drink water and stay hydrated

Hydration is a key factor for lowering blood sugar levels. During dehydration, the hormone vasopressin causes the liver to produce blood sugar, elevating its levels. The kidneys then try to get rid of excess blood sugar through urine, making one lose water in the process.

Drinking water regularly re-hydrates the blood, lowers blood sugar levels and reduces diabetes risk. 

Keep in mind that water and other non-caloric beverages are best. Sugar-sweetened drinks raise blood glucose, drive weight gain and increase diabetes risk.

Bottom Line: Staying hydrated can reduce blood sugar levels and help prevent diabetes. Water is best.

5. Implement portion control

Portion control helps regulate calorie intake and can result in weight loss.

Consequentially, controlling the weight promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Monitoring the serving size of food also helps reduce calorie intake and subsequent blood sugar spikes.

Here are some helpful tips for controlling portions:

Measure and weigh portions.

Use smaller plates.

Avoid all-you-can-eat restaurants.

Read food labels and check the serving sizes.

Keep a food journal.

Eat slowly.

Bottom Line: The more control you have over your serving sizes the better control you will have over your blood sugar levels.

6. Choose foods with a low glycemic index

The glycemic index was developed to assess the body’s blood sugar response to foods that contain carbs. Both the amount and type of carbs determine how a food affects blood sugar levels.

Eating low-glycemic-index foods has been shown to reduce long-term blood sugar levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

Bottom Line: It’s important to choose foods with a low glycemic index and watch your overall carb intake.

7. Control stress levels

Stress can affect your blood sugar levels.

Hormones such as glucagon and cortisol are secreted during stress. These hormones cause blood sugar levels to go up.

Exercises and relaxation methods like yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction can also correct insulin secretion problems in chronic diabetes.

Bottom Line: Controlling stress levels through exercise or relaxation methods such as yoga will help you control blood sugars.

8. Monitor your blood sugar levels

“What gets measured gets managed.” Measuring and monitoring blood glucose levels can also help you control them.

It will also help you find out how your body reacts to certain foods. Try measuring your levels every day, and keeping track of the numbers in a log.

Bottom Line: Checking your sugars and maintaining a log every day will help you adjust foods and medications to decrease your sugar levels.

9. Get enough quality sleep

Getting enough sleep feels great and is necessary for good health. Poor sleeping habits and a lack of rest also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. They can increase appetite and promote weight gain.

Sleep deprivation decreases the release of growth hormones and increases cortisol levels. Both of these play an important role in blood sugar control.

Bottom Line: Good sleep helps maintain blood sugar control and promote a healthy weight. Poor sleep can disrupt important metabolic hormones.

10. Try apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has many benefits for your health. It increases blood sugar use by cells and decreases its production by the liver. It also reduces fasting blood sugar levels.

What’s more, studies show that vinegar significantly influences your body’s response to sugars and improves insulin sensitivity. To incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet, you can add it to salad dressings or mix 2 teaspoons in 8 ounces of water. 

However, it’s important to check with your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar if you are already taking medications that lower blood sugar.

Bottom Line: Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet can help your body in many ways, including reducing blood sugar levels.

11. Experiment with cinnamon extract

Cinnamon is known to have many health benefits. For one, it has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by decreasing insulin resistance at the cellular level.

It slows the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract, which decreases the amount of blood sugar entering cells after a meal.

Cinnamon also acts in a similar way as insulin, although at a much slower rate. An effective dose is 1–6 grams of cinnamon per day, or about 0.5–2 teaspoons.

However, definitely don’t take more than that since too much cinnamon can be harmful.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

12. Try berberine

Berberine is the active component of a Chinese herb that’s been used to treat diabetes for thousands of years. Berberine has been shown to help lower blood sugar and enhance the breakdown of carbs for energy.

What’s more, berberine may be as effective as some blood sugar lowering drugs. This makes it one of the most effective supplements for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

However, many of the mechanisms behind its effects are still unknown. Additionally, it may have some side effects. Diarrhea, constipation, flatulence and abdominal pain have been reported.

A common dosage protocol is 1,500 mg per day, taken before meals as 3 doses of 500 mg.

Bottom Line: Berberine works well for lowering blood sugar levels and can help manage diabetes. However, it may have some digestive side effects.

13. Eat fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek seeds are a great source of soluble fiber, which can help control blood sugar levels.

Many studies have shown that fenugreek can effectively lower blood sugar in diabetics. It also helps reduce fasting glucose and improve glucose tolerance.

Although not that popular, fenugreek can easily be added to baked goods to help treat diabetes. You can also make fenugreek flour or brew it into tea.

Fenugreek seeds are also considered one of the safest herbs for diabetes.

The recommended dose of fenugreek seeds is 2–5 grams per day.

Bottom Line: Consider giving fenugreek seeds a try. They are easy to add to your diet and can help regulate blood glucose levels.

14. Lose some weight

It’s a no-brainer that maintaining a healthy weight will improve your health and prevent future health problems.

Weight control also promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

Even a 7% reduction in body weight can decrease your risk of developing diabetes by up to 58%, and it seems to work even better than medication.

You should also be conscious of your waistline, as it is perhaps the most important weight-related factor for estimating your diabetes risk.

A measurement of 35 inches (88.9 cm) or more for women and 40 inches (101.6 cm) or more for men is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes.

Having a healthy waist measurement may be even more important than your overall weight.

Bottom Line: Keeping a healthy weight and waistline will help you maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of developing diabetes.

Take Home Message

Make sure to check with your doctor before making lifestyle changes or trying new supplements.

This is particularly important if you have problems with blood sugar control or if you are taking medications to lower your sugar levels.

That being said, if you are diabetic or have problems with blood sugar control, then you should start doing something about it as soon as possible.

 

 

Source: Authority Nutrition

17 Top Tips to Losing Belly Fat

By Franziska Spritzler

Belly fat is more than just a nuisance that makes your clothes feel tight. Fat inside the belly area is also termed visceral fat, and can be seriously harmful. Although losing fat from this area can be difficult, there are several things you can do to reduce excess abdominal fat leading to a happier, healthier life style.

Here are 17 effective tips to lose belly fat, backed by scientific studies.

  1. Eat Plenty of Soluble Fibre

Make an effort to consume high-fibre foods every day. Excellent sources of soluble fibre include flaxseeds, shirataki noodles, Brussels sprouts, avocados, legumes and blackberries.

Soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system.

Studies show this type of fibre promotes weight loss by helping you feel full so you naturally eat less. It may also decrease the amount of calories your body absorb from food

2. Avoid Foods That Contain Trans Fats

These fats have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, insulin resistance and abdominal fat gain in observational and animal studies

They’re found in some margarines and spreads, and look out for them in packaged foods.

To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, read ingredient labels as they are often listed as “partially hydrogenated” fats.

3. Limit Your Alcohol

Research suggests too much alcohol can also make you gain belly fat.

In a study of more than 2000 people, those who drank alcohol daily but averaged less than one drink per day had less belly fat than those who drank less frequently but consumed more alcohol on the days they did drink

So, cutting back on alcohol may help reduce your waist size. You don’t need to give it up altogether if you enjoy it, but limiting the amount you drink in a single day can help.

4. Eat a High-Protein Diet

Protein is an extremely important nutrient for weight control.

Be sure to include a good protein source at every meal, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, whey protein or nuts; because high protein intake increases release of the fullness hormone PYY, which decreases appetite and promotes fullness. Protein also raises your metabolic rate and helps you retain muscle mass during weight loss

5. Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress can make you gain belly fat by triggering the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.”

Research shows high cortisol levels increase appetite and drive abdominal fat storage

To help reduce belly fat, engage in pleasurable activities that relieve stress. Practicing yoga or meditation can be effective methods.

6. Don’t Eat a Lot of Sugary Foods

Sugar contains fructose, which has been linked to several chronic diseases when consumed in excess.

These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease and observational studies show a relationship between high sugar intake and increased abdominal fat

7. Do Aerobic Exercise (Cardio)

Aerobic exercise (cardio) is an effective way to improve health and burn calories.

Studies also show it is one of the most effective forms of exercise for reducing belly fat. However, results are mixed regarding whether moderate-intensity or high-intensity exercise is more beneficial

Regardless of intensity, how often and how much you exercise is important. One study found postmenopausal women lost more fat from all areas when they did aerobic exercise for 300 minutes per week versus 150 minutes per week.

8. Cut Back on Carbs, Especially Refined Carbs

Reducing carb intake can be very beneficial for losing fat, especially abdominal fat.

You don’t have to follow a strict low-carb diet. Some research suggests that simply replacing refined carbs with unprocessed starchy carbs may improve metabolic health and reduce belly fat

In the famous Framingham Heart Study, people with the highest consumption of whole grains were 17% less likely to have excess abdominal fat than those who consumed diets high in refined grains.

9. Replace Some of Your Cooking Fats With Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.

Studies showing it can boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat you store in response to high calorie intake

Studies suggest consuming or switching leads to abdominal fat loss.

To boost belly fat loss, it’s best to take about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil per day, which is the amount used in most of the studies reporting good results.

However, keep in mind that coconut oil is still high in calories. Instead of adding extra fat to your diet, replace some of the fats you are already eating with coconut oil.

10. Perform Resistance Training (Lift Weights)

Resistance training, also known as weight lifting or strength training, is important for preserving and gaining muscle mass.

One study in overweight teenagers showed that a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise led to the greatest decrease in visceral fat.

If you decide to start weight lifting, it is a good idea to get advice from a certified personal trainer.

11. Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages are loaded with liquid fructose, which can make you gain belly fat.

Studies show that sugary drinks lead to increased fat in the liver. One 10-week study showed significant abdominal fat gain in people who consumed beverages high in fructose

To lose belly fat, it’s best to completely avoid sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, punch and sweet tea, as well as alcoholic mixers containing sugar.

12. Get Plenty of Restful Sleep

Sleep is important for many aspects of health, including your weight. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to gain more weight, which may include belly fat

A 16-year study of more than 68,000 women found those who slept less than 5 hours per night were significantly more likely to gain weight than those who slept 7 hours or more per night

In addition to sleeping at least 7 hours per night, make sure you’re getting sufficient quality sleep.

13. Track Your Food Intake and Exercise

Many things can help you lose weight and belly fat, but consuming fewer calories than your body needs for weight maintenance is key

Keeping a food diary or using an online food tracker or app can help you monitor your calorie intake. This strategy has been shown to be beneficial for weight loss

14. Eat Fatty Fish Every Week

Fatty fish are incredibly healthy.

They are rich in quality protein and omega-3 fats that protect you from disease and may help reduce visceral fat.

Studies in adults and children with fatty liver disease show fish oil supplements can significantly reduce liver and abdominal fat

Aim to get 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week. Good choices include salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.

15. Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Diet

Drinking apple cider vinegar has impressive health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels

It contains a compound called acetic acid, which has been shown to reduce abdominal fat storage in several animal studies

In a controlled study of obese men, those who took 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per day for 12 weeks lost half an inch (1.4 cm) from their waists

16. Eat Probiotic Foods or Take a Probiotic Supplement

Researchers have found different types of bacteria found in probiotics play a role in weight regulation, and having the right balance can help with weight loss, including loss of belly fat.

Probiotic supplements typically contain several types of bacteria, so make sure you purchase one that provides one or more of these bacterial strains.

17. Try Intermittent Fasting

An eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting has become popular for weight loss.

One popular method involves 24-hour fasts once or twice a week. Another involves fasting every day for 16 hours and eating all your food in an 8 hour period.

In a review of studies on intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting, people experienced a 4–7% decrease in abdominal fat within a period of 6-24 weeks




Breastfeeding: Good for the Baby and Mother

mojatubfeedmaster

Breast milk provides optimal nutrition for babies. It has the right amount of nutrients and is easily digested and readily available. However, the rate of breastfeeding is as low as 30% in some groups of women. While some women are unable to breastfeed, others simply choose not to.

 

 

Yet studies show breastfeeding has major health benefits, for both the mother and her baby.

 

1. Breast Milk Provides Ideal Nutrition for Babies

 

 

Most health authorities recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months. Continued breastfeeding is then recommended for at least one year, as different foods are introduced into the baby’s diet.

 

Breast milk contains everything the baby needs for the first six months of life, in all the right proportions. Its composition even changes according to the baby’s changing needs, especially during the first month of life.

 

During the first days after birth, the breasts produce a thick and yellowish fluid called colostrum. It’s high in protein, low in sugar and loaded with beneficial compounds. Colostrum is the ideal first milk and helps the newborn’s immature digestive tract develop. After the first few days, the breasts start producing larger amounts of milk as the baby’s stomach grows.

 

About the only thing that may be lacking from breast milk is vitamin D. Unless the mother has a very high intake, her breast milk will not provide enough. To compensate for this deficiency, vitamin D drops are usually recommended from the age of 2–4 weeks.

 

Bottom Line: Breast milk contains everything your baby needs for the first six months of life, with the possible exception of vitamin D. The first milk is thick, rich in protein and loaded with beneficial compounds.

 

2. Breast Milk Contains Important Antibodies

 

Breast milk is loaded with antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria; this particularly applies to colostrum, the first milk.

 

Colostrum provides high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA), as well as several other antibodies. When the mother is exposed to viruses or bacteria, she starts producing antibodies. These antibodies are then secreted into the breast milk and passed to the baby during feeding. IgA protects the baby from getting sick by forming a protective layer in the baby’s nose, throat and digestive system.

 

Formula doesn’t provide antibody protection for babies. Numerous studies show that babies who are not breastfed are more vulnerable to health issues like pneumonia, diarrhea and infection.

 

Bottom Line: Breast milk is loaded with antibodies, especially immunoglobin A, which can help prevent or fight illness in your baby.

 

3. Breastfeeding May Reduce Disease Risk

 

 

Breastfeeding has an impressive list of health benefits. This is particularly true of exclusive breastfeeding, meaning that the infant receives only breast milk.

 

It may reduce your baby’s risk of many illnesses and diseases, and the protective effects of breastfeeding seem to last throughout childhood and even adulthood.

 

Bottom Line: Breastfeeding may reduce your baby’s risk of infections and many diseases, including allergy, celiac disease and diabetes.

 

4. Breast Milk Promotes a Healthy Weight

 

Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity.

 

Studies show that obesity rates are 15–30% lower in breastfed babies, compared to formula-fed babies. The duration is also important, as each month of breastfeeding reduces your child’s risk of future obesity by 4%.

 

This may be due to the development of different gut bacteria. Breastfed babies have higher amounts of beneficial gut bacteria, which may affect fat storage. Babies fed on breast milk also have more leptin in their systems than formula-fed babies. Leptin is a key hormone for regulating appetite and fat storage.

 

Bottom Line: Breastfed babies have lower obesity rates than formula-fed babies. They also have more leptin and more beneficial gut bacteria.

 

5. Breastfeeding May Make Children Smarter

 

Some studies suggest there may be a difference in brain development between breastfed and formula-fed babies. This difference may be due to the physical intimacy, touch and eye contact associated with breastfeeding.

 

Studies indicate that breastfed babies have higher intelligence scores and are less likely to develop problems with behavior and learning as they grow older.

 

However, the most pronounced effects are seen in preterm babies, who have a higher risk of developmental issues. The research clearly shows that breastfeeding has significant positive effects on their long-term brain development.

 

Bottom Line: Breastfeeding may affect your baby’s brain development and reduce the risk of future behavior and learning problems.

 

6. Breastfeeding May Help You Lose Weight

 

 

While some women seem to gain weight during breastfeeding, others seem to effortlessly lose weight.

 

Although breastfeeding increases a mother’s energy demands by about 500 calories per day, the body’s hormonal balance is very different from normal. Because of these hormonal changes, lactating women have an increased appetite and may be more prone to storing fat for milk production.

 

For the first 3 months after delivery, breastfeeding mothers may lose less weight than women who don’t breastfeed, and they may even gain weight. However, after 3 months of lactation, they will likely experience an increase in fat burning. Beginning around 3–6 months after delivery, mothers who breastfeed have been shown to lose more weight than mothers who don’t breastfeed.

 

The important thing to remember is that diet and exercise are still the most important factors determining how much weight you will lose, whether lactating or not.

 

Bottom Line: Breastfeeding may make weight loss harder for the first 3 months after delivery. However, it may actually help with weight loss after the first 3 months.

 

7. Breastfeeding Helps the Uterus Contract

 

During pregnancy, your uterus grows immensely, expanding from the size of a pear to filling almost the entire space of your abdomen. After delivery, your uterus goes through a process called involution, which helps it return to its previous size. Oxytocin, a hormone that increases throughout pregnancy, helps drive this process.

 

Your body secretes high amounts of oxytocin during labor to help deliver the baby and reduce bleeding. Oxytocin also increases during breastfeeding. It encourages uterine contractions and reduces bleeding, helping the uterus return to its previous size.

 

Studies have also shown that mothers who breastfeed generally have less blood loss after delivery and faster involution of the uterus.

 

Bottom Line: Breastfeeding increases oxytocin production, a hormone that causes contractions in the uterus. It reduces blood loss after delivery and helps the uterus return to its previous smaller size.

 

8. Mothers Who Breastfeed Have a Lower Risk of Depression

 

 

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that can develop shortly after childbirth. It affects up to 15% of mothers. Women who breastfeed seem less likely to develop postpartum depression, compared to mothers who wean early or do not breastfeed.

 

However, those who experience postpartum depression early after delivery are also more likely to have trouble breastfeeding and do so for a shorter duration.

 

Although the evidence is a bit mixed, it’s known that breastfeeding causes hormonal changes that encourage maternal caregiving and bonding.

 

Oxytocin appears to have long-term anti-anxiety effects. It also encourages bonding by affecting specific brain regions that promote nurturing and relaxation. These effects may also partly explain why breastfeeding mothers have a lower rate of maternal neglect, compared to those who do not breastfeed.

 

Bottom Line: Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop postpartum depression. They have increased amounts of oxytocin in their system, which encourages caregiving, relaxation and bonding between mother and child.

 

9. Breastfeeding Reduces Your Disease Risk

 

Breastfeeding seems to provide the mother with long-term protection against cancer and several diseases. The total time a woman spends breastfeeding is linked with a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

 

In fact, women who breastfeed for more than 12 months during their lifetime have a 28% lower risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. Each year of breastfeeding is associated with a 4.3% decrease in breast cancer risk.

 

Recent studies also indicate that breastfeeding may protect against metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems. Women who breastfeed for 1–2 years over their lifetime have a 10–50% lower risk of high blood pressure, arthritis, high blood fats, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

 

Bottom Line: Breastfeeding for more than one year is linked to a 28% lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It has also been linked to a reduced risk of several other diseases.

 

10. Breastfeeding May Prevent Menstruation

 

 

Continued breastfeeding also pauses ovulation and menstruation. The suspension of menstrual cycles may actually be nature’s way of ensuring there is some time between pregnancies.

 

Some women have even used this phenomenon as birth control for the first few months after delivery. However, note that this may not be a completely effective method of birth control.

 

You may consider this change as an extra benefit. While you’re enjoying precious time with your newborn, you won’t have to worry about “that time of the month.”

 

Bottom Line: Regular breastfeeding pauses ovulation and menstruation. Some have used this as birth control, but it may not be completely effective.

 

11. It Also Saves Time and Money

 

To top the list, breastfeeding is completely free and requires very little effort.

 

Bottom Line: By breastfeeding, you don’t have to worry about buying or mixing formula, warming up bottles or calculating you baby’s daily needs.

 

Take Home Message

 

If you are unable to breastfeed, then feeding your baby with formula is still completely fine. It will provide your baby with all the nutrients he or she needs.

 

However, breast milk also contains antibodies and other elements that protect your baby from illness and chronic disease. Additionally, mothers who breastfeed experience their own benefits, such as convenience and reduced stress.

 

As an added bonus, breastfeeding gives you a valid reason to sit down, put your feet up and relax while you bond with your precious newborn.

 

 

Source: Authority Nutrition

What can we do now to end the HIV-AIDS epidemic?

By Vishnu Shankar (Stanford University)

With over 36.9 million individuals globally living with HIV-AIDS and an estimated 35 million people dead since the start of the epidemic, what will it take to have an AIDS-free generation? Last month, the United Nations announced their ambitious goal to end the HIV-AIDS epidemic by 2030. It has been suggested that these efforts will require greater money and political will in the most vulnerable countries, along with active efforts to strengthen health systems in order to improve patient access to care. This leads to a greater question with a less clear answer: what can we do in the immediate future with our existing efforts to end the epidemic by 2030?

With the upcoming Presidential elections in the United States and the Housecurrently considering appropriations measures for previous governmental health policy, one successful policy that we need to increase the budget for is the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

By most accounts, PEPFAR has been the most effective and largest program in global health targeting one disease by any nation in the world. Over the last few years, PEPFAR has provided anti-retroviral therapy (ART), the most effective therapy against HIV-AIDS, to 6.7 million people worldwide. For more than 1.5 million pregnant women, PEPFAR has prevented the transmission of HIV from mothers to children by providing them with ART. Early ART undoubtedly slows the progression of HIV-AIDS and reduces individual risk of mortality as well as spread of infection, thereby enabling even the most vulnerable individuals infected with HIV to live healthy, long, productive lives while preventing new cases from developing.

Further, epidemiological evidence from Dr. Eran Bendavid and his colleagues at Stanford University has shown “robust evidence” of the association between PEPFAR and reduction in all-cause mortality in African countries with the most intensive interventions that the program funds. Therefore, it is rather jeopardizing that PEPFAR, one of the most impactful US government-driven global health programs, continues to see large cuts in the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget. Since 2010, PEPFAR funding has declined by nearly 325 million dollars, including a 288 million dollar cut in the budget just last year.

If we truly aim to have an AIDS-free generation by 2030, it is crucial that U.S. senators and representatives act now in the upcoming budget process to allocate 4.845 billion dollars, the amount needed to capitalize on our previous investments in AIDS. In a recent article published in Health Policy and Planning, it was shown this investment will be crucial for countries with especially high prevalence of HIV-AIDS such as South Africa, where there is a need to re-allocate funding and integrate new services while strengthening local health systems. According to a report in April 2016 from Doctors Without Borders, some of this funding needs to be allocated specifically to scale up HIV testing by increasing the number of sites that offer free testing and counseling, strengthening a patient-focused network of HIV services between “civil society, patient associations, faith-based organizations (FBO) and NGOs that facilitate referral and linkage to care,” and ensuring sufficient availability of ARTs by supporting community-based refill initiatives and peer support.

However, increasing the bilateral funding through PEPFAR for improving treatment coverage and strengthening the patient-network is not enough. To end the epidemic will also require a shift in the way we view prevention strategies for HIV-AIDS.

In 1985, when Dr. Don Francis, Director for the Center for Disease Control AIDS Laboratory Activities, prepared the first national HIV-AIDS prevention plan for 20 million dollars, he was denied funding by Congress, as they did not perceive HIV-AIDS to be a credible global threat. It was apparent that the lack of any early investment in a HIV-AIDS vaccine research or prevention program has had drastic consequences. As the epidemic was only nationally acknowledged in 1987, by which time more than 50,000 cases of AIDS had been diagnosed, the government’s early investment would have averted the current well-identified need for investment in HIV-AIDS vaccine development, better prevention strategies, improved treatment coverage, and greater treatment options.

The current efforts towards fostering an HIV-AIDS free generation have primarily focused on “treatment as prevention” paradigms. Ending the HIV-AIDS epidemic will require a paradigm shift, one that shifts our efforts to protecting populations rather than only investing in treating HIV-AIDS positive patients. According to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, current director for the Center for Disease Control, HIV needs to be fought “how syphilis and gonorrhea are fought”, by protecting the population at-large rather than targeting individual patients alone. Most government investment in HIV-AIDS focuses much of its efforts on research and treatment, often overlooking the need for investing in development of a vaccine. As Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health, indicated to me, PEPFAR has been instrumental in this movement towards global health equity. As Partners in Health has worked in building sustainable health systems to protect the most vulnerable populations, Dr. Farmer explained that PEPFAR has “brought critical new resources and attention to the fight” against AIDS, thereby “enabling life-saving care for those long shut out of modern medicine.” Even more, he expressed that our battle against AIDS has been the symbolic “catalyst” in our broader “movement for global health equity.”

Therefore, for us to end the epidemic will not only require “predictability in funding flows […and…] resilience in leadership,” as Peter Piot, Director of Global Health for the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine puts it. It will also require integrating new prevention methods in the existing patient-focused network along with a steady focus on strengthening health systems, thereby improving treatment access and coverage. Most importantly, we need the “courage to press ahead, because if we fail the challenge of HIV prevention, HIV-AIDS will relentlessly undermine human progress.” We are in a now or never situation and need to act today to replenish the funding for PEPFAR if we are to end the HIV-AIDS epidemic rather than continuing to tread water in our fight against the disease.

 

Vishnu Shankar is a sophomore at Stanford University, studying chemistry, mathematics, and computer science. He is the advocacy lead for Partners In Health Engage, where he works with local Congressmen and his peers at Stanford to illuminate issues surrounding health policy.

source for this article was found at http://blogs.lshtm.ac.uk/hppdebated/2016/07/05/what-can-we-do-now-to-end-the-hiv-aids-epidemic/?utm_source=LIDC+master+contact+list&utm_campaign=107ee2a958-LIDC_MONTHLY_NEWS_AND_VIEWS_JULY_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_eb332843fb-107ee2a958-311105353

Creatine: More than Muscle Building

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Creatine is a natural supplement used to boost athletic performance; it is one of the world’s best supplements for building muscle and strength. Despite common myths in the media, creatine is actually very safe and is also used in a clinical setting to treat neurological diseases.

 

Here’s what creatine does for your health: 

 

1. Helps muscle cells produce more energy

 

 

Creatine supplements increase muscles’ phosphocreatine stores. Phosphocreatine helps with the formation of new ATP, the key molecule your cells use for energy and all basic functions of life. 

 

During exercise, ATP is broken down to produce energy. The rate of ATP re-synthesis limits your ability to continually perform at maximum intensity. You use ATP faster than you can build it up again.

 

Bottom Line: Supplementing with creatine can provide additional ATP energy, which improves high-intensity exercise performance.

 

2. Supports many other functions in muscles

 

Creatine is a popular and effective supplement for adding muscle mass.

 

It can alter numerous cellular pathways that lead to new muscle growth, including boosting the formation of proteins that create new muscle fibers. It can also increase IGF-1 levels and stimulate the Akt/PKB pathway. These send a signal to your body to build muscle mass.

 

Creatine supplements can also increase the water content of your muscles. This is known as cell volumization, and can quickly increase the size of muscles.

 

Some research has also shown that supplementing decreases the level of myostatin, a molecule responsible for stunting muscle growth. Reducing myostatin can help you build muscle faster.

 

Bottom Line: Creatine can stimulate several key biological processes that lead to increased muscle growth and size.

 

3. Improves high-intensity exercise performance

 

 

Creatine’s direct role in ATP energy production means it can drastically improve high-intensity exercise performance.

 

Studies have shown creatine can improve numerous factors to help you perform better, including: strength, ballistic power, sprint ability, muscle endurance, resistance to fatigue, muscle mass, recovery, and brain performance. 

 

Bottom Line: Creatine is the world’s most effective supplement for high-intensity sports. It has benefits regardless of your current fitness level.

 

4. Speeds up muscle growth

 

 

Creatine is the world’s most effective supplement for adding muscle mass. Taking it for as little as five to seven days has been shown to significantly increase lean body weight and muscle size.

 

This initial rise is caused by increased water content within the muscle. Over the long term, it also aids in muscle fiber growth by signaling key biological pathways and increasing weights and performance in the gym.

 

Bottom Line: Creatine can increase muscle mass in both the short- and long-term. It is the most effective muscle-building supplement available.

 

5. May help with Parkinson’s disease

 

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a reduction in brain levels of a key neurotransmitter called dopamine. The large reduction in dopamine levels causes brain cell death and several serious symptoms, including tremors, loss of muscle function and speech impairments.

 

Creatine has been shown to benefit Parkinson’s in mice, preventing 90% of the drop in dopamine levels. In an attempt to treat the loss of muscle function and strength, Parkinson’s patients often perform weight training.

 

In humans with Parkinson’s disease, combining creatine with weight training improved strength and daily function to a greater extent than training alone.

 

Bottom Line: Creatine may help reduce the symptoms and severity of Parkinson’s disease by maintaining dopamine levels and muscle function.

 

6. May fight other neurological diseases

 

 

A key factor in several neurological diseases is a reduction in brain levels of phosphocreatine. Creatine may help reduce or slow disease progression in the light of its capacity to increase these levels. 

 

Research in animals suggests that taking creatine supplements may treat other diseases too, including: alzheimer’s disease, ischemic stroke, epilepsy, brain or spinal cord injuries. 

 

Although more studies are needed in humans, many researchers believe taking creatine supplements can have extremely beneficial effects against neurological diseases when used along with conventional medicine and drugs.

 

Bottom Line: Animal studies suggest that creatine can help with symptoms, disease progression and even life expectancy in neurological diseases.

 

7. May lower blood sugar levels and fight diabetes

 

Research suggests that creatine supplements can help lower blood sugar levels. This may occur by increasing the function of GLUT4, a transporter molecule that brings blood sugar into muscles.

 

The short-term blood sugar response to a meal is an important marker for diabetes risk. The faster your body can clear sugar from the blood, the better.

 

These benefits are promising, but more human research is needed on the long-term effects on blood sugar control and diabetes.

 

Bottom Line: There is some evidence that creatine can help lower blood sugar levels after meals, but there is little data on its long-term effects.

 

8. Can improve brain function

 

Creatine plays an important role in brain health and function. Research has shown that the brain requires a significant amount of ATP energy when performing difficult tasks.

 

Meat is the best dietary source of creatine, and vegetarians often have low levels because they avoid meat. One study on creatine supplements in vegetarians found a 20-50% improvement in some memory and intelligence test scores.

 

Although this seems to apply to elderly individuals, more research is needed in young, healthy individuals who eat meat or fish on a regular basis.

 

Bottom Line: Supplementing with creatine can provide the brain with additional energy, thereby improving memory and intelligence in people with low levels of creatine.

 

9. May reduce fatigue or tiredness

 

 

Creatine supplements may also reduce fatigue and tiredness. One of the most notable studies to date followed traumatic brain injury patients for six months. Those who supplemented had a 50% reduction in dizziness, compared to those who did not. Furthermore, only 10% of patients in the supplement group suffered from fatigue, compared to 80% in the control group.

 

Creatine can also reduce exercise-induced fatigue in athletes during a cycling test, and has been used to decrease fatigue when exercising in high heat.

 

Bottom Line: Creatine can reduce symptoms of fatigue and tiredness by providing the brain with additional energy and increasing dopamine levels.

 

10. Is safe and easy to use

 

Along with the diverse benefits outlined in this article, creatine is also one of the cheapest and safest supplements available. It’s been researched for more than 200 years and numerous studies support its safety for long-term use. Clinical trials lasting up to five years report no adverse effects in healthy individuals.

 

What’s more, supplementing is very easy. Simply take 3–5 grams of creatine monohydrate powder per day. At the end of the day, creatine is an effective supplement with powerful benefits for both sports performance and health.

 

 

Source: Authority Nutrition

Oolong Tea and Its Benefit

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Oolong tea represents only 2% of the world’s tea, but it’s well-worth discovering. It combines the qualities of dark and green teas, giving it several interesting health benefits. For example, it may boost metabolism and reduce stress.

 

What is Oolong Tea?

 

Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea. It’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to make green tea and black tea. The difference is in how the tea is processed.

 

All tea leaves contain certain enzymes, which produce a chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation turns the green tea leaves into a deep black color. With a slight extent of oxidisation, you get green tea, which when going through further oxidization, turns into black tea. Oolong tea is somewhere in between the two- partially oxidized. This partial oxidation is responsible for oolong tea’s color and characteristic taste.

 

However, the color of the leaves can vary between different brands, ranging from green to dark brown.

 

Bottom Line: Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea made from the partially oxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.

 

Nutrients in Oolong Tea

Similar to black and green teas, oolong tea contains several vitamins, minerals and helpful antioxidants. Some of the main antioxidants in oolong tea, known as tea polyphenols, are theaflavins, thearubigins and EGCG. These are responsible for many of its health benefits. Oolong tea also contains theanine, an amino acid that gives the tea its relaxing charm.

 

Bottom Line: In addition to caffeine, oolong tea contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and beneficial tea polyphenol antioxidants.

 

Oolong Tea May Help Prevent Diabetes

 

The polyphenol antioxidants found in tea are thought to help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. They’re also thought to increase insulin sensitivity. Accordingly, several studies report links between regular tea consumption, improved blood sugar control and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

 

A recent review observed that those drinking 24 oz (720 ml) of oolong tea per day had a 16% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Another study reported that diabetics who consumed 50 oz (1.5 liters) per day had up to 30% lower blood sugar levels at the end of a 30-day study. Similarly, consuming 33 oz (1 liter) of oolong tea each day for 30 days decreased average blood sugar levels by 3.3%.

 

Nevertheless, not all studies agree and one even reports an increased risk of developing diabetes for those drinking 16 oz (480 ml) or more per day.

 

Bottom Line: The polyphenol antioxidants may help maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the evidence is mixed and more research is needed.

 

Oolong Tea May Improve Heart Health

 

Regularly consuming tea antioxidants may also improve heart health. Several studies of regular tea drinkers report reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as a reduced risk of heart disease.

 

In a recent study, people who drank more than 48 oz (1.4 liters) of tea per day were 51% less likely to have heart disease, compared to non-tea drinkers. In addition, regularly consuming 4 oz (120 ml) of green or oolong tea per day may reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure by up to 46%. However, not all studies agree.

 

 

One thing to remember is that oolong tea contains caffeine, which may slightly raise blood pressure in some people. That being said, this effect tends to fade with regular caffeine consumption. Furthermore, since the caffeine content in an 8-oz (240-ml) cup is only about one-fourth of that found in the same amount of coffee, this effect is likely to be small.

 

Bottom Line: Oolong tea may help decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure in some people.

 

Oolong Tea May Help You Lose Weight

 

Scientists believe that some of the polyphenols in oolong tea may boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat absorbed from your diet. These polyphenol antioxidants are also thought to activate enzymes that help you use stored fat for energy.

 

This could be partially due to the caffeine content of tea, but tea polyphenols may also play a role. To test this idea, researchers compared the effects of caffeine alone to a combination of caffeine and tea polyphenols. Both increased the amount of calories burned by about 4.8%, but only the tea polyphenol and caffeine mix increased the participants’ fat burning ability. This indicates that the fat burning effects of tea are also caused by the plant compounds in tea, not just the caffeine.

 

That being said, some participants responded better than others, so the effects likely vary from person to person.

 

Bottom Line: The combination of caffeine and polyphenols found in oolong tea may help increase the amount of calories and fat burned each day. This could ultimately help speed up weight loss.

 

Oolong Tea May Improve Brain Function

 

Recent reviews show that tea may help maintain brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, several components of tea may benefit brain function.

 

For starters, caffeine is shown to increase the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. These two brain messengers are thought to benefit mood, attention and brain function. Further research shows that theanine, an amino acid in tea, may also help boost attention and relieve anxiety.

 

Tea polyphenols are also thought to have a calming effect, especially starting two hours after intake. Few studies have looked specifically at oolong tea, but one found that regular tea drinkers had up to a 64% lower risk of brain function decline. This effect was particularly strong for regular black and oolong tea drinkers.

 

Bottom Line: The caffeine, antioxidant and theanine content of teas may have beneficial effects on brain function and mood.

 

Oolong Tea Promotes Tooth and Bone Strength

 

The antioxidants found in oolong tea may help keep your teeth and bones strong. One study showed that people who drank black, green or oolong tea daily over a 10-year period had 2% higher overall bone mineral density. 

 

A study of 680 postmenopausal Chinese women found that those who drank oolong tea regularly had 4.5–4.9% higher bone densities than non-tea-drinkers. In addition, several other recent reviews report similar positive effects of tea on bone mineral density.

A higher bone mineral density could lower the risk of fractures. However, the direct link between oolong tea and fractures has not been investigated yet. Finally, research links tea consumption to reduced dental plaque. Oolong tea is also a rich source of fluoride, which could help strengthen tooth enamel.

 

Bottom Line: Oolong tea may help increase bone mineral density. It may also strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the formation of dental plaque.

 

Oolong Tea May Help Relieve Eczema

 

The polyphenols in tea may also have some anti-allergic properties.

 

One study asked 118 patients with severe cases of eczema to drink 33 oz (1 liter) of oolong tea per day, in addition to maintaining their normal treatment. Eczema symptoms improved as early as 1–2 weeks into the study. After 1 month of the combined treatment, 63% of patients showed improvement. What’s more, the improvement persisted. They were still observed in 54% of the patients 5 months later.

 

Bottom Line: The polyphenol antioxidants in oolong tea may help relieve symptoms of eczema, and the improvements may last for a long time.

 

Safety and Side Effects

 

Oolong tea has been consumed for centuries and is generally considered to be safe. That being said, it does contain caffeine. When consumed in excess, caffeine can lead to anxiety, headaches, insomnia, irregular heartbeat and in some, high blood pressure.

 

Additionally, consuming too many polyphenol antioxidants can make them act as pro-oxidants, which are not good for your health. Excess intake may occur from taking polyphenol supplements, but this is unlikely from simply drinking tea.

 

The flavonoids in tea can also bind the iron found in plant foods, reducing absorption from the digestive system by 15–67%. Those with low iron levels should avoid drinking tea with meals and consider consuming vitamin C-rich foods to help increase iron absorption.

 

Both the USDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consider daily intakes of 400 mg of caffeine as safe. This is equivalent to 48–80 oz of oolong tea (1.4–2.4 liters) per day. Pregnant women are advised to stick to a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine, which is about 3-5 cups of oolong tea per day.

 

Keep in mind that coffee, soda, energy drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine. So if you’re trying to reduce your intake, make sure to account for these sources as well.

 

Bottom Line: Drinking up to 10 cups of oolong tea per day is generally considered to be safe for most people.

 

Take Home Message

 

Oolong tea may not be as well known as green or black tea, but it has similar health benefits. These include benefits for heart, brain, bone and dental health.

 

In addition, it may boost your metabolism, decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and protect against certain types of cancer. At the end of the day, oolong tea is an incredibly healthy and tasty addition to your lifestyle. Give it a try — you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Source: Authority Nutrition

Fasting: Effective in Fighting Common Cold?

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When it comes to treating cold, medication is not the only solution people resort to. Some say that fasting helps the body recover from the cold. 

 

This article explores whether fasting has any benefits against the flu or common cold.

 

What is Fasting?

 

Fasting is defined as the abstinence from foods and/ or drinks for a period of time. And fasting exists in several types, among which the most common include:

 

Absolute fasting: Involves not eating or drinking, usually for a short period.

Water fasting: Allows intake of water but nothing else.

Juice fasting: Also known as juice cleansing or juice detoxing, and usually involves the exclusive intake of fruit and vegetable juices.

Intermittent fasting: This eating pattern cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting, which can last up to 24 hours.

Bottom Line: There are several ways to fast and each has its own way of restricting the intake of foods and beverages.

 

 

How Does Fasting Affect the Immune System?

 

Fasting forces the body to rely on its energy stores to sustain normal function. The first store of choice is glucose, which is mostly found as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Once glycogen is depleted, which generally occurs after 24–48 hours, the body starts using muscle protein and fat for energy. Using large amounts of fat as a fuel source produces by-products called ketones, which the body and brain can use as a source of energy.

 

Interestingly, one particular ketone — beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) — was found to benefit the immune system. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine observed that exposing human immune cells to BHB in amounts found in a body following 2 days of fasting resulted in a reduced inflammatory response.

 

That said, the exact ways in which fasting affects the immune system are not yet fully understood, and further studies are needed. 

 

Bottom Line: Short periods of fasting may support healthy immune function by promoting immune cell recycling and limiting the inflammatory response.

 

Why Fasting May Help You Recover from Colds or the Flu

 

Cold and flu infections are caused by viruses, specifically the rhinovirus and influenza virus. However, being infected with these viruses lowers the body’s defence against bacteria, raising chances of simultaneously developing a bacterial infection, whose symptoms are often similar to your initial ones.

 

There is research to support the idea that the lack of appetite often felt during the first few days of an illness is the body’s natural adaptation to fighting the infection.

 

All the studies so far seem to agree that the beneficial effects of fasting are limited to the acute phase of infection — usually lasting up to just a few days.

 

However, there are currently no human studies examining whether fasting or eating have any effects on the common cold or flu in the real-world.

 

Bottom Line: Many hypotheses exist to explain how fasting can help promote healing, but more research is needed to confirm the effects in humans.

 

Fasting and Other Diseases

 

In addition to the potential benefits against infections, fasting may also help with the following medical conditions:

 

Type 2 Diabetes: Intermittent fasting may have positive effects on insulin resistance and blood sugar levels for some individuals.

Oxidative stress: Intermittent fasting may help prevent disease by limiting oxidative stress and inflammation.

Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce heart disease risk factors like body weight, total cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides.

Brain health: Animal and human studies suggest that fasting may protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

Cancer: Short periods of fasting could protect cancer patients against chemotherapy damage and increase treatment effectiveness.

Of note, intermittent fasting has also been shown to cause weight loss.

 

Thus, some of the aforementioned health benefits may be due to the weight loss caused by fasting, as opposed to fasting itself.

 

Bottom Line: Whether directly or indirectly, fasting may positively affect several medical conditions.

 

Eating Certain Foods Can Be Beneficial Too

 

None of the studies mentioned so far recommend avoiding food if you feel hungry, nor do they advocate prolonged fasting past the first few days of infection. For these reasons, it’s worth discussing which foods are best for each type of infection.

 

Best Foods to Fight Cold Symptoms

 

 

Warm liquids, such as soups, provide both energy and hydration. They have also been shown to reduce congestion. Fluids will thin mucus secretions, making them easier to clear. So make sure to stay hydrated.

 

Finally, foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges, mango, papaya, berries and cantaloupe, could also help reduce the severity of symptoms.

 

Bottom Line: The best foods and liquids to consume during a cold include soups, warm beverages and foods rich in vitamin C.

 

Best Foods to Fight Flu Symptoms

 

When trying to reduce stomach symptoms associated with the flu, it’s best to stick to eating bland, easily digested foods. Examples include clear soup broths or meals consisting exclusively of fruit or starches, such as rice or potatoes. To ease an upset stomach, try staying away from irritants such caffeine and acidic or spicy foods. Also consider avoiding extremely fatty foods as it takes longer to digest them. If you’re feeling nauseous, try incorporating some ginger into your diet.

 

Finally, make sure to stay hydrated. Adding a pinch of salt to your fluids will also help replenish some of the electrolytes lost through sweat, vomiting or diarrhea.

 

Bottom Line: Bland and easily digested foods are best when you have the flu. Drinking plenty of fluids is important, and adding ginger may help reduce nausea.

 

Best Foods to Prevent the Common Cold or Flu

 

The digestive system makes up over 70% of the immune system. This is largely due to the large amounts of beneficial bacteria that reside within. Probiotics fortifies these bacteria and helps prevent harmful bacteria from entering the bloodstream, effectively protecting the body from infection. You can find them in foods like yogurt with live cultures, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh and kombucha. In addition, Garlic also contains compounds that prevent infection and boost defenses against the common cold and flu.

 

Bottom Line: Consuming prebiotics, probiotics, garlic and having an overall healthy diet may help prevent you from catching a cold or the flu.

 

 

Should You Fast When You’re Sick?

 

Based on what we know up to this point, complying to your hunger signals still seems to be a generally good idea. As long as your hunger resumes within the first few days after getting sick, there’s no scientific basis for forcing yourself to eat.

 

That being said, there are also no particular benefits to purposely ignoring your hunger as a way to speed up your recovery. Regardless of whether you eat or not, keep in mind that consuming adequate fluids and getting enough rest remains key.

 

 

Source: Authority Nutrition