Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Uncontrolled cases can cause blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and other serious conditions.

Before diabetes is diagnosed, there is a period where blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This is known as prediabetes.

It’s estimated that up to 70% of people with prediabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, progressing from prediabetes to diabetes isn’t inevitable.

Although there are certain factors you can’t change — such as your genes, age or past behaviors — there are many actions you can take to reduce the risk of diabetes.

Here are 13 ways to avoid getting diabetes.

1. Cut Sugar and Refined Carbs From Your Diet

Eating sugary foods and refined carbs can put at-risk individuals on the fast track to developing diabetes.

Your body rapidly breaks these foods down into small sugar molecules, which are absorbed into your bloodstream.

The resulting rise in blood sugar stimulates your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that helps sugar get out of the bloodstream and into your body’s cells.

In people with prediabetes, the body’s cells are resistant to insulin’s action, so sugar remains high in the blood. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin, attempting to bring blood sugar down to a healthy level.

Over time, this can lead to progressively higher blood sugar and insulin levels, until the condition eventually turns into type 2 diabetes.

Many studies have shown a link between the frequent consumption of sugar or refined carbs and the risk of diabetes. What’s more, replacing them with foods that have less of an effect on blood sugar may help reduce your risk.

A detailed analysis of 37 studies found that people with the highest intakes of fast-digesting carbs were 40% more likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest intakes.

2. Work Out Regularly

Performing physical activity on a regular basis may help prevent diabetes.

Exercise increases the insulin sensitivity of your cells. So when you exercise, less insulin is required to keep your blood sugar levels under control.

One study in people with prediabetes found that moderate-intensity exercise increased insulin sensitivity by 51% and high-intensity exercise increased it by 85%. However, this effect only occurred on workout days.

Many types of physical activity have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar in overweight, obese and prediabetic adults. These include aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training and strength training.

Working out more frequently seems to lead to improvements in insulin response and function. One study in people at risk of diabetes found that burning more than 2,000 calories weekly via exercise was required to achieve these benefits.

Therefore, it’s best to choose physical activity that you enjoy, can engage in regularly and feel you can stick with long-term.

3. Drink Water as Your Primary Beverage

Water is by far the most natural beverage you can drink.

What’s more, sticking with water most of the time helps you avoid beverages that are high in sugar, preservatives and other questionable ingredients.

Sugary beverages like soda and punch have been linked to an increased risk of both type 2 diabetes and latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA).

LADA is a form of type 1 diabetes that occurs in people over 18 years of age. Unlike the acute symptoms seen with type 1 diabetes in childhood, LADA develops slowly, requiring more treatment as the disease progresses.

One large observational study looked at the diabetes risk of 2,800 people.

Those who consumed more than two servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a 99% increased risk of developing LADA and a 20% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Researchers of one study on the effects of sweet drinks on diabetes stated that neither artificially sweetened beverages nor fruit juice were good beverages for diabetes prevention.

By contrast, consuming water may provide benefits. Some studies have found that increased water consumption may lead to better blood sugar control and insulin response.

One 24-week study showed that overweight adults who replaced diet sodas with water while following a weight loss program experienced a decrease in insulin resistance and lower fasting blood sugar and insulin levels.

4. Lose Weight If You’re Overweight or Obese

Although not everyone who develops type 2 diabetes is overweight or obese, the majority are.

What’s more, those with prediabetes tend to carry excess weight in their midsection and around abdominal organs like the liver. This is known as visceral fat.

Excess visceral fat promotes inflammation and insulin resistance, which significantly increase the risk of diabetes.

Although losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce this risk, studies show that the more you lose, the more benefits you’ll experience.

One study of more than 1,000 people with prediabetes found that for every kilogram (2.2 lbs) of weight participants lost, their risk of diabetes reduced by 16%, up to a maximum reduction of 96%.

There are many healthy options for losing weight, including low-carb, Mediterranean, paleo and vegetarian diets. However, choosing a way of eating you can stick with long-term is key to helping you maintain the weight loss.

One study found that obese people whose blood sugar and insulin levels decreased after losing weight experienced elevations in these values after gaining back all or a portion of the weight they lost.

5. Quit Smoking

Smoking has been shown to cause or contribute to many serious health conditions, including heart disease, emphysema and cancers of the lung, breast, prostate and digestive tract.

There’s also research linking smoking and second-hand smoke exposure to type 2 diabetes.

In an analysis of several studies totaling over one million people, smoking was found to increase the risk of diabetes by 44% in average smokers and 61% in people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes daily.

One study followed the risk of diabetes in middle-aged male smokers after they quit. After five years their risk had reduced by 13%, and after 20 years they had the same risk as people who had never smoked.

Researchers stated that even though many of the men gained weight after quitting, after several smoke-free years, their risk of diabetes was lower than if they’d continued smoking.

6. Follow a Very-Low-Carb Diet

Following a ketogenic or very-low-carb diet can help you avoid diabetes.

Although there are a number of ways of eating that promote weight loss, very-low-carb diets have strong evidence behind them.

They have consistently been shown to lower blood sugar and insulin levels, increase insulin sensitivity and reduce other diabetes risk factors.

In a 12-week study, prediabetic individuals consumed either a low-fat or low-carb diet. Blood sugar dropped by 12% and insulin dropped by 50% in the low-carb group.

In the low-fat group, meanwhile, blood sugar dropped by only 1% and insulin dropped by 19%. Thus, the low-carb diet had better results on both counts.

If you minimize your carb intake, your blood sugar levels won’t rise very much after you eat. Therefore, your body needs less insulin to maintain your blood sugar within healthy levels.

What’s more, very-low-carb or ketogenic diets may also reduce fasting blood sugar.

In a study of obese men with prediabetes who followed a ketogenic diet, average fasting blood sugar decreased from 118 to 92 mg/dl, which is within the normal range. Participants also lost weight and improved several other health markers.

7. Watch Portion Sizes

Whether or not you decide to follow a low-carb diet, it’s important to avoid large portions of food to reduce the risk of diabetes, especially if you are overweight.

Eating too much food at one time has been shown to cause higher blood sugar and insulin levels in people at risk of diabetes.

On the other hand, decreasing portion sizes may help prevent this type of response.

A two-year study in prediabetic men found that those who reduced food portion sizes and practiced other healthful nutrition behaviors had a 46% lower risk of developing diabetes than the men who made no lifestyle changes.

Another study looking at weight loss methods in people with prediabetes reported that the group practicing portion control lowered their blood sugar and insulin levels significantly after 12 weeks.

8. Avoid Sedentary Behaviors

It’s important to avoid being sedentary if you want to prevent diabetes.

If you get no or very little physical activity, and you sit during most of your day, then you lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Observational studies have shown a consistent link between sedentary behavior and the risk of diabetes.

A large analysis of 47 studies found that people who spent the highest amount of time per day engaged in sedentary behavior had a 91% increased risk of developing diabetes.

Changing sedentary behavior can be as simple as standing up from your desk and walking around for a few minutes every hour.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to reverse firmly entrenched habits.

One study gave young adults at risk of diabetes a 12-month program designed to change sedentary behavior. Sadly, after the program ended, the researchers found that participants hadn’t reduced how much time they sat.

Set realistic and achievable goals, such as standing while talking on the phone or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Committing to these easy, concrete actions may be the best way to reverse sedentary tendencies.

9. Eat a High-Fiber Diet

Getting plenty of fiber is beneficial for gut health and weight management.

Studies in obese, elderly and prediabetic individuals have shown that it helps keep blood sugar and insulin levels low.

Fiber can be divided into two broad categories: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water, whereas insoluble fiber does not.

In the digestive tract, soluble fiber and water form a gel that slows down the rate at which food is absorbed. This leads to a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.

However, insoluble fiber has also been linked to reductions in blood sugar levels and a decreased risk of diabetes, although exactly how it works is not clear.

Most unprocessed plant foods contain fiber, although some have more than others. Check out this list of 22 high-fiber foods for many excellent sources of fiber.

10. Optimize Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is important for blood sugar control.

Indeed, studies have found that people who don’t get enough vitamin D, or whose blood levels are too low, have a greater risk of all types of diabetes.

Most health organizations recommend maintaining a vitamin D blood level of at least 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/l).

One study found that people with the highest blood levels of vitamin D were 43% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest blood levels.

Another observational study looked at Finnish children who received supplements containing adequate levels of vitamin D.

Children who took the vitamin D supplements had a 78% lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes than children who received less than the recommended amount of vitamin D.

Controlled studies have shown that when people who are deficient take vitamin D supplements, the function of their insulin-producing cells improves, their blood sugar levels normalize and their risk of diabetes reduces significantly.

Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish and cod liver oil. In addition, sun exposure can increase vitamin D levels in the blood.

However, for many people, supplementing with 2,000–4,000 IU of vitamin D daily may be necessary to achieve and maintain optimal levels.

11. Minimize Your Intake of Processed Foods

One clear step you can take to improve your health is to minimize your consumption of processed foods.

They’re linked to all sorts of health problems, including heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Studies suggest that cutting back on packaged foods that are high in vegetable oils, refined grains and additives may help reduce the risk of diabetes.

This may be partly due to the protective effects of whole foods like nuts, vegetables, fruits and other plant foods.

One study found that poor-quality diets that were high in processed foods increased the risk of diabetes by 30%. However, including nutritious whole foods helped reduce this risk.

12. Drink Coffee or Tea

Although water should be your primary beverage, research suggests that including coffee or tea in your diet may help you avoid diabetes.

Studies have reported that drinking coffee on a daily basis reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 8–54%, with the greatest effect generally seen in people with the highest consumption.

Another review of several studies that included caffeinated tea and coffee found similar results, with the largest risk reduction in women and overweight men.

Coffee and tea have antioxidants known as polyphenols that may help protect against diabetes.

In addition, green tea contains a unique antioxidant compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that has been shown to reduce blood sugar release from the liver and increase insulin sensitivity.

13. Consider Taking These Natural Herbs

There are a few herbs that may help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce the likelihood of diabetes progression.

Curcumin

Curcumin is a component of the bright gold spice turmeric, which is one of the main ingredients in curries.

It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been used in India for centuries as part of Ayurvedic medicine.

Research has shown it can be very effective against arthritis and may help reduce inflammatory markers in people with prediabetes.

There’s also impressive evidence that it may decrease insulin resistance and reduce the risk of diabetes progression.

In a controlled nine-month study of 240 prediabetic adults, among the group who took 750 mg of curcumin daily, no one developed diabetes. However, 16.4% of the control group did.

In addition, the curcumin group experienced an increase in insulin sensitivity and improved functioning of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Berberine

Berberine is found in several herbs and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Studies have shown that it fights inflammation and lowers cholesterol and other heart disease markers.

In addition, several studies in people with type 2 diabetes have found that berberine has strong blood-sugar-lowering properties.

In fact, a large analysis of 14 studies found that berberine is as effective at lowering blood sugar levels as metformin, one of the oldest and most widely used diabetes medications.

Because berberine works by increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing the release of sugar by the liver, it might theoretically help people with prediabetes avoid diabetes.

However, at this point there are no studies that have looked at this.

In addition, since its effects on blood sugar are so strong, it should not be used in conjunction with other diabetes medications unless authorized by a doctor.

The Bottom Line

You have control over many of the factors that influence diabetes.

Rather than viewing prediabetes as a stepping stone to diabetes, it may be helpful to see it as a motivator for making changes that can help reduce your risk.

Eating the right foods and adopting other lifestyle behaviors that promote healthy blood sugar and insulin levels will give you the best chance at avoiding diabetes.

Source: Healthline 

Information about dried fruit is very conflicting.

Some say it is a nutritious, healthy snack, while others claim it is no better than candy.

This is a detailed article about dried fruit and how it can affect your health.

What is Dried Fruit?

Dried fruit is fruit that has had almost all of the water content removed through drying methods.

The fruit shrinks during this process, leaving a small, energy-dense dried fruit.

Raisins are the most common type, followed by dates, prunes, figs and apricots.

Other varieties of dried fruit are also available, sometimes in candied form (sugar coated). These include mangoes, pineapples, cranberries, bananas and apples.

Dried fruit can be preserved for much longer than fresh fruit and can be a handy snack, particularly on long trips where refrigeration is not available.

Dried Fruit is Loaded With Micronutrients, Fiber and Antioxidants

Dried fruit is highly nutritious.

One piece of dried fruit contains about the same amount of nutrients as the fresh fruit, but condensed in a much smaller package.

By weight, dried fruit contains up to 3.5 times the fiber, vitamins and minerals of fresh fruit.

Therefore, one serving can provide a large percentage of the daily recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals, such as folate.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, the vitamin C content is significantly reduced when the fruit is dried.

Dried fruit generally contains a lot of fiber and is a great source of antioxidants, especially polyphenols.

Polyphenol antioxidants are associated with health benefits such as improved blood flow, better digestive health, decreased oxidative damage and reduced risk of many diseases.

Health Effects of Dried Fruit

Several studies have shown that people who eat dried fruit tend to weigh less and ingest more nutrients, compared to individuals not eating dried fruit.

However, these studies were observational in nature, so they can not prove that the dried fruit caused the improvements.

Dried fruit is also a good source of many plant compounds, including powerful antioxidants.

Raisins May Reduce the Risk of Certain Diseases

Raisins are dried grapes.

They are packed with fiber, potassium and various health-promoting plant compounds.

They have a low to medium glycemic index value, and a low insulin index.

This means that raisins should not cause major spikes in blood sugar or insulin levels after meals.

Studies show that eating raisins may:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Improve blood sugar control.
  • Decrease inflammatory markers and blood cholesterol.
  • Lead to increased feeling of fullness.

All of these factors should contribute to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Prunes are Natural Laxatives and May Help Fight Diseases

Prunes are dried plums.

They are highly nutritious, being rich in fiber, potassium, beta-carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin K.

They are known for their natural laxative effects.

This is caused by their high content of fiber and a sugar alcohol called sorbitol, which is found naturally in some fruit.

Eating prunes has been shown to help improve stool frequency and consistency. Prunes are considered to be even more effective at relieving constipation than psyllium, which is another common remedy.

As a great source of antioxidants, prunes may inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and help prevent heart disease and cancer.

Prunes are also rich in a mineral called boron, which can help fight osteoporosis.

Furthermore, prunes are very filling and should not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.

Dates May Benefit Pregnancy and Help Prevent Several Diseases

Dates are incredibly sweet. They are a great source of fiber, potassium, iron and several plant compounds.

Of all the dried fruit, they are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, contributing to reduced oxidative damage in the body.

Dates have a low glycemic index, which means that eating them should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels.

Date consumption has also been studied in relation to pregnant women and labor.

Eating dates regularly during the last few weeks of pregnancy may help facilitate cervical dilation, as well as decrease the need for induced labor.

One study had women eat dates during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Only 4% of the date-eating women required induced labor, compared to 21% of those who did not consume dates.

Dates have also shown promising results in animal and test-tube studies as a remedy for infertility in males, but human studies are lacking at this point.

Dried Fruit is High in Natural Sugar and Calories

Fruit tend to contain significant amounts of natural sugars.

Because the water has been removed from dried fruit, this concentrates all the sugar and calories in a much smaller package.

For this reason, dried fruit is very high in calories and sugar, including both glucose and fructose.

Below are some examples of the natural sugar content of dried fruit.

  • Raisins: 59%.
  • Dates: 64–66%.
  • Prunes: 38%.
  • Apricots: 53%.
  • Figs: 48%.

About 22–51% of this sugar content is fructose. Eating a lot of fructose may have negative health effects. This includes increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

A small 1-ounce portion of raisins contains 84 calories, almost exclusively from sugar.

Because dried fruit is sweet and energy-dense, it is easy to eat large amounts at a time, which can result in excess sugar and calorie intake.

Avoid Dried Fruit with Added Sugar (Candied Fruit)

To make some dried fruit even more sweet and appealing, they are coated with added sugar or syrup before being dried.

Dried fruit with added sugar are also referred to as “candied” fruit.

Added sugar has repeatedly been shown to have harmful effects on health, increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and even cancer.

To avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar, it is very important to read the ingredients and nutrition information found on the package.

Dried Fruit May Also Contain Sulfites, and May be Contaminated With Fungi and Toxins

Some producers add preservatives called sulfites to their dried fruit.

This makes the dried fruit look more appealing, because it preserves the fruit and prevents discoloration.

This applies mainly to brightly colored fruits, such as apricots and raisins.

Some individuals may be sensitive to sulfites, and may experience stomach cramps, skin rashes and asthma attacks after ingesting them. To avoid sulfites, choose dried fruit that is brown or grayish rather than brightly colored.

Dried fruit that is improperly stored and handled may also be contaminated with fungi, aflatoxins and other toxic compounds.

Take Home Message

Same as with many other foods, dried fruit have both good and bad aspects.

Dried fruit can boost your fiber and nutrient intake and supply your body with large amounts of antioxidants.

However, they are also high in sugar and calories, and can cause problems when eaten in excess.

For this reason, dried fruit should only be eaten in small amounts, preferably along with other nutritious foods.

They should not be eaten by the handful, because it is very easy to eat too many calories from dried fruit.

Also, they are a high-carb food, making them unsuitable on a low-carb diet.

At the end of the day, dried fruit is far from perfect, but it is certainly a much healthier and more nutritious snack than chips or other processed junk foods.

Source: HealthLine

 

Bananas are an incredibly popular fruit — and it’s no wonder why. They’re convenient, versatile, and a staple ingredient in many cuisines worldwide.

Though bananas are a healthy, nutrient-dense snack, eating too many could be detrimental.

This article explores how many bananas you should eat per day.

Bananas are highly nutritious

Bananas are as delicious as they are convenient, but their nutritional value is what really makes them shine.

They’re a good source of several essential nutrients, including manganese, potassium, and vitamins C and B6.

A medium-sized, fresh banana (118 grams) provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 105
  • Carbs: 27 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 22% of the DV
  • Potassium: 12% of the DV
  • Manganese: 16% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 8% of the DV

Bananas also contain various plant compounds that may reduce stress, inflammation, and your risk of chronic diseases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Adding bananas to your routine is a great way to boost your intake of whole fruit and promote your overall health.

Very low in protein and fat

The vast majority of the calories in bananas come from carbs. They only provide negligible amounts of protein and fat.

In fact, protein and fat combined make up less than 8% of the total calorie content of a banana.

Protein is a major structural component of your body, and it’s needed for proper immune function, tissue repair, muscle building, and bone health.

Meanwhile, fats provide energy, assist with the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, and play a role in hormone production and brain health.

Because bananas lack these vital nutrients, they don’t hold up well on their own as a nutritionally complete meal.

If a banana is your usual go-to snack, consider pairing it with a source of healthy fat and protein, such as peanut butter, a handful of walnuts, or a boiled egg, to make it more nutritionally balanced.

Too much of a good thing

Bananas are a healthy addition to almost any diet, but too much of any single food — including bananas — could do more harm than good.

Bananas are not typically considered a high-calorie food. However, if your banana habit is causing you to eat more calories than your body needs, it could lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Additionally, over 90% of the calories in bananas come from carbs

In unripe or green bananas, the main source of carbs comes from starch. As the fruit ripens, the starch converts to sugar. Thus, by the time your banana is ripe enough to eat, a large proportion of the calories may be coming from sugar.

Additionally, eating too many bananas may lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially if you’re not making room for foods that contain the nutrients bananas are lacking, such as protein, fat, calcium, vitamin D, and iron.

How many bananas should you eat?

Balance and variety are hallmarks of a healthy diet.

Your body is a complex system that requires many types of nutrients to function properly. The best way to ensure you’re getting everything your body needs is to eat an assortment of foods from each food group.

There is no specific number of bananas that automatically makes them good or bad. It really depends on your unique calorie and nutrient needs.

In theory, you could eat as many bananas as you want, as long as you’re not over-consuming calories, displacing other foods and nutrients that your body needs, or harming your health in other ways.

That said, one to two bananas per day would likely be considered a moderate intake for most healthy people.

Don’t forget to include a variety of other nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

The bottom line

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world.

They’re full important nutrients, but eating too many could end up doing more harm than good.

Too much of any single food may contribute to weight gain and nutrient deficiencies.

One to two bananas per day is considered a moderate intake for most healthy people.

Be sure to eat this fruit as part of a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients your body needs.

 

Source: Healthline 

Ever wondered how you could explain explain Coronavirus to children?

Here is a great book that helps you do so.

This book was made by Nosy Crow to meet the needs of children and their families. was edited by by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson & Nia Roberts and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

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Wearing a face mask often helps people feel protected and reassured. But can a surgical face mask keep you from being exposed to or transmitting certain infectious diseases?

And, if face masks do shield you from infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, is there a proper way to put them on, take them off, and discard them? Keep reading to find out.

What is a surgical face mask?

A surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable mask that’s rectangular in shape. The mask has elastic bands or ties that can be looped behind your ears or tied behind your head to hold it in place. A metal strip may be present at the top of the mask and can be pinched to fit the mask around your nose.

A properly worn three-ply surgical mask may help block transmission of large-particle microorganisms from droplets, sprays, splatters, and splashes. The mask may also reduce the likelihood of hand-to-face contact.

The surgical mask’s three-ply layers work as follows:

  • The outer layer repels water, blood, and other body fluids.
  • The middle layer filters certain pathogens.
  • The inner layer absorbs moisture and sweat from exhaled air.

However, the edges of surgical masks don’t form a tight seal around your nose or mouth. Therefore, they can’t filter out small airborne particles such as those transmitted by coughing or sneezing.

When should you wear a face mask?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using surgical masks only if you:

  • have a fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms
  • are well but caring for someone with a respiratory illness — in this case, wear a mask when you’re within 6 feet or closer to the person who is ill

Although a surgical mask helps trap larger respiratory droplets, it can’t protect you from contracting the novel coronavirus, which is known as SARS-CoV-2. That’s because surgical masks:

  • don’t filter out smaller airborne particles
  • don’t fit snugly on your face, so airborne particles can leak in through the sides of the mask

Some studies have failed to show that surgical masks effectively prevent exposure to infectious diseases in community or public settings.

At present, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t recommend that the general public wear surgical masks or N95 respirators to protect from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. Healthcare providers and first responders need these supplies, and there’s currently a shortage of them.

However, in the case of COVID-19, the CDC does advise the general public to wear cloth face coverings to prevent the spread of the disease. The CDC also provides instructions on how to make your own.

How to put on a surgical mask

If you need to wear a surgical mask, take the following steps to put one on correctly.

Steps to putting on a face mask

  1. Before putting on the mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or rub your hands together thoroughly with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Check for defects in the face mask, such as tears or broken loops.
  3. Position the colored side of the mask outward.
  4. If present, make sure the metallic strip is at the top of the mask and positioned against the bridge of your nose.
  5. If the mask has:
    • Ear loops: Hold the mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear.
    • Ties: Hold the mask by the upper strings. Tie the upper strings in a secure bow near the crown of your head. Tie the bottom strings securely in a bow near the nape of your neck.
    • Dual elastic bands: Pull the top band over your head and position it against the crown of your head. Pull the bottom band over your head and position it against the nape of your neck.
  6. Mold the bendable metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers.
  7. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
  8. Be sure the mask fits snugly.
  9. Don’t touch the mask once in position.
  10. If the mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one.

What not to do when wearing a surgical mask

Once the mask is positioned securely, there are certain precautions to keep in mind to ensure you don’t transfer pathogens to your face or hands.

Do not:

  • touch the mask once it’s secured on your face, as it might have pathogens on it
  • dangle the mask from one ear
  • hang the mask around your neck
  • crisscross the ties
  • reuse single-use masks

If you have to touch the face mask while you’re wearing it, wash your hands first. Be sure to also wash your hands afterward, or use hand sanitizer.

How to remove and discard a surgical mask

It’s important to remove the face mask correctly to ensure you don’t transfer any germs to your hands or face. You also want to make sure you discard the mask safely.

Steps to taking off a face mask

  1. Before you take off the mask, wash your hands well or use hand sanitizer.
  2. Avoid touching the mask itself, as it could be contaminated. Hold it by the loops, ties, or bands only.
  3. Carefully remove the mask from your face once you:
    • unhook both ear loops, or
    • untie the bottom bow first, followed by the top one, or
    • remove the bottom band first by lifting it over your head, then do the same with the top band
  4. Holding the mask loops, ties, or bands, discard the mask by placing it in a covered trash bin.
  5. After removing the mask, wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer.

What is an N95 respirator?

N95 respirators are form-fitted to the size and shape of your face. Because they fit your face more snugly, there’s less opportunity for airborne particles to leak in around the sides of the mask.

N95s can also filtrate small airborne particles more effectively.

The key to an effective N95 is to ensure that it fits your face correctly. Healthcare practitioners who provide direct patient care are fit-tested annually by a qualified professional to be sure their N95 fits them snugly.

A properly fitted N95 respirator usually filtrates pathogens in the air much better than a surgical mask. Respirators that have been carefully tested and certified to carry the N95 designation can block up to 95 percent of tiny (0.3 micron) test particles. But they also have their limitations.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t recommend that the general public use N95 respirators to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. If worn without a snug fit, they can’t filter out small airborne particles that cause illnesses.

According to the FDA, the best way to prevent an infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. It recommends practicing social distancing and frequent handwashing.

The results of a 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis found no significant difference between N95 respirators and surgical masks when used by healthcare workers to prevent transmission of acute respiratory infections in clinical settings.

A recent 2019 randomized clinical trial published in the journal JAMA supported these findings.

What works best to limit infection?

If you have a respiratory illness, the best way to minimize transmission is to avoid other people. The same applies if you want to avoid contracting a virus.

To reduce your risk of transmitting the virus, or coming into contact with it, the WHO recommends the following:

  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if you don’t have access to soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your face, mouth, and eyes.
  • Keep a safe distance from others. The CDC recommends at least 6 feet.
  • Avoid public places until you recover fully.
  • Stay home and rest.

 The bottom line

Surgical masks may protect against larger airborne particles, while N95 respirators provide better protection against smaller particles.

Putting on and taking off these face masks correctly may help protect you and the health of those around you from transmitting or contracting pathogens.

Although face masks may help reduce the spread of some disease-causing organisms, evidence suggests that using face masks may not always protect you or others from exposure to certain pathogens.

Source: HealthLine

Carica papaya — also simply known as papaya or pawpaw — is a type of tropical, fruit-bearing tree native to Mexico and northern regions of South America.

Today, papaya is one of the most widely cultivated crops in the world. Its fruit, seeds, and leaves are frequently utilized in a variety of culinary and folk medicine practices.

Papaya leaf contains unique plant compounds that have demonstrated broad pharmacological potential in test-tube and animal studies.

Although human research is lacking, many papaya leaf preparations, such as teas, extracts, tablets, and juices, are often used to treat illnesses and promote health in numerous ways.

Here are 7 emerging benefits and uses of papaya leaf.

1. May treat symptoms related to dengue fever

One of the most prominent medicinal benefits of papaya leaf is its potential to treat certain symptoms associated with dengue fever.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus that can be transmitted to humans and cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and skin rashes.

Severe cases can also result in reduced platelet levels in the blood. Low platelet levels can contribute to an increased risk of bleeding and are potentially fatal if left untreated.

While there’s currently no cure for dengue, several treatments are available for managing its symptoms — one of which is papaya leaf.

Three human studies that included several hundred people with dengue found that papaya leaf extract significantly increased blood platelet levels.

What’s more, the papaya leaf therapy had very few associated side effects and was found to be much more cost effective than conventional treatments.

2. May promote balanced blood sugar

Papaya leaf is often used in Mexican folk medicine as a natural therapy for treating diabetes and improving blood sugar control.

Studies in mice with diabetes have found papaya leaf extract to have potent antioxidant and blood-sugar-lowering effects. This is attributed to papaya leaf’s ability to protect insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from damage and premature death.

Still, no scientific evidence indicates that the same or similar effects may occur in humans.

More research is needed to determine whether papaya leaf can be used to help manage high blood sugar levels in humans.

3. May support digestive function

Papaya leaf teas and extracts are often used as an alternative therapy to alleviate uncomfortable digestive symptoms, such as gas, bloating, and heartburn.

Papaya leaf contains fiber — a nutrient that supports healthy digestive function — and a unique compound called papain.

Papain is well known for its ability to break down large proteins into smaller, easier-to-digest proteins and amino acids. It’s even used as a meat tenderizer in culinary practices.

One study found that the supplemental use of a papain powder sourced from papaya fruit reduced negative digestive symptoms, including constipation and heartburn, in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

No scientific studies have specifically evaluated papaya leaf’s ability to treat similar types of digestive disturbances.

Most of the evidence favoring its use for this purpose is limited to anecdotal reports, and there’s no guarantee it’ll improve your digestive function in any way.

4. May have anti-inflammatory effects

Various papaya leaf preparations are frequently used to remedy a broad range of internal and external inflammatory conditions, including skin rashes, muscle aches, and joint pain.

Papaya leaf contains various nutrients and plant compounds with potential anti-inflammatory benefits, such as papain, flavonoids, and vitamin E.

One study found that papaya leaf extract significantly reduced inflammation and swelling in the paws of rats with arthritis.

Yet, no human studies have confirmed these results.

Thus, at this point, scientific evidence is insufficient to determine whether papaya leaf can treat acute or chronic inflammation in humans.

5. May support hair growth

Topical applications of papaya leaf masks and juices are often used to improve hair growth and scalp health, but evidence to support its efficacy for these purposes is extremely limited.

Some research suggests that high levels of oxidative stress in the body may contribute to hair loss. Eating antioxidant-rich foods may help alleviate oxidative stress and subsequently improve hair growth.

Papaya leaf contains several compounds with antioxidant properties, such as flavonoids and vitamin E.

Proponents of using papaya leaf to improve hair growth often cite its rich supply of antioxidants. However, there’s no significant evidence that the topical application of papaya leaves can benefit the hair growth process.

Certain types of dandruff are caused by an overgrowth of a fungus called Malassezia, which can impede hair growth.

Papaya leaf has demonstrated antifungal properties in test-tube studies, so it’s often thought to support hair and scalp health by inhibiting the growth of dandruff-causing fungus.

However, papaya leaf has not been specifically tested against Malassezia, so there’s no guarantee it’ll have beneficial effects.

6. May promote healthy skin

Papaya leaf is frequently consumed orally or applied topically as a way to maintain soft, clear, and youthful-looking skin.

A protein-dissolving enzyme in papaya leaf called papain can be used topically as an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and potentially reduce the occurrence of clogged pores, ingrown hairs, and acne.

Moreover, papaya leaf enzymes have been used to promote wound healing, and one study found they minimized the appearance of scar tissue in rabbits.

7. May have anticancer properties

Papaya leaf has been used in traditional medicine practices to prevent and treat certain types of cancer, but modern research is still lacking.

Papaya leaf extract has demonstrated a powerful ability to inhibit the growth of prostate and breast cancer cells in test-tube studies, but neither animal nor human experiments have replicated these results.

Although consuming papaya leaves and other antioxidant-rich foods may play a role in cancer prevention, they have not been proven to have any curative abilities.

Safety precautions

Although more research is needed to prove many of the purported benefits of papaya leaf, it has a pretty good safety record.

A 2014 animal study found that papaya leaf had no toxic effects even at very large doses, and human studies have reported very few negative side effects.

That said, if you’re allergic to papaya, you should not consume papaya leaves in any form. Moreover, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consult your healthcare provider prior to consuming any papaya leaf preparations.

Although papaya leaf itself is generally considered safe for most people, it’s important that you only choose the highest quality products if you’re purchasing it in supplement form.

Nutritional and herbal supplements are not closely regulated in some countries, including the United States.

Supplement manufacturers do not have to prove the safety or efficacy of their products before they’re sold. As such, they may contain contaminants or other potentially harmful ingredients that aren’t listed on the label.

To avoid any unintended negative consequences, opt for supplements that have been tested for purity by a third-party organization, such as NSF or US Pharmacopoeia.

Dosage

There’s currently not enough evidence to make precise dosage recommendations for each of the possible uses of papaya leaf.

However, taking three doses of up to 1 ounce (30 mL) of papaya leaf extract per day is considered safe and effective for the treatment of dengue fever.

If you’re unsure how much papaya leaf you should consume, consult a qualified healthcare provider.

The bottom line

Papaya is one of the most widely cultivated plants in the world, and its fruit, seeds, and leaves are used for a variety of culinary and medicinal purposes.

Papaya leaf is often consumed as an extract, tea, or juice and has been found to treat symptoms related to dengue fever.

Other common uses include reducing inflammation, improving blood sugar control, supporting skin and hair health, and preventing cancer.

However, there’s not enough evidence available to determine whether it’s effective for any of these purposes.

Papaya leaf is generally considered safe, but it should be avoided if you’re allergic to it.

Always consult your healthcare provider prior to adding any herbal supplements to your health and wellness routine.

Source: Health Line 

Bananas are extremely healthy and delicious.

They contain several essential nutrients and provide benefits for digestion, heart health and weight loss.

Aside from being very nutritious, they are also a highly convenient snack food.

Here are 11 science-based health benefits of bananas.

1. Bananas Contain Many Important Nutrients

Bananas are among the world’s most popular fruits.

Native to Southeast Asia, they are now grown in many warm parts of the world.

Bananas vary in color, size and shape.

The most common type is the Cavendish, which is a type of dessert banana. Green when unripe, it yellows as it matures.

Bananas contain a fair amount of fiber, as well as several antioxidants. One medium-sized banana (118 grams) also boasts:

  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
  • Copper: 10% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 14% of the RDI
  • Net carbs: 24 grams
  • Fiber: 3.1 grams
  • Protein: 1.3 grams
  • Fat: 0.4 grams

Each banana has only about 105 calories and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. Bananas hold very little protein and almost no fat.

The carbs in green, unripe bananas consist mostly of starch and resistant starch, but as the banana ripens, the starch turns into sugar (glucose, fructose and sucrose).

2. Bananas Contain Nutrients That Moderate Blood Sugar Levels

Bananas are rich in pectin, a type of fiber that gives the flesh its spongy structural form (4).

Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which acts like soluble fiber and escapes digestion.

Both pectin and resistant starch may moderate blood sugar levels after meals and reduce appetite by slowing the emptying of your stomach.

Furthermore, bananas also rank low to medium on the glycemic index (GI), which is a measure — from 0–100 — of how quickly foods increase blood sugar levels.

The GI value of unripe bananas is about 30, while ripe bananas rank at about 60. The average value of all bananas is 51.

This means that bananas should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.

However, this may not apply to people with type 2 diabetes, who should probably avoid eating a lot of well-ripened bananas — and monitor their blood sugar carefully if they do.

3. Bananas May Improve Digestive Health

Dietary fiber has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion.

A medium-sized banana has about 3 grams of fiber, making bananas a fairly good fiber source.

Bananas contain two main types of fiber:

  • Pectin: Decreases as the banana ripens.
  • Resistant starch: Found in unripe bananas.

Resistant starch escapes digestion and ends up in your large intestine, where it becomes food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Additionally, some test-tube studies propose that pectin may help protect against colon cancer.

4. Bananas May Aid Weight Loss

No study has directly tested the effects of bananas on weight loss. However, bananas do have several attributes that should make them a weight-loss-friendly-food.

For starters, bananas have relatively few calories. An average banana has just over 100 calories — yet it is also very nutritious and filling.

Eating more fiber from vegetables and fruits like bananas has repeatedly been linked to lower body weight and weight loss. Furthermore, unripe bananas are packed with resistant starch, so they tend to be very filling and may reduce your appetite.

5. Bananas May Support Heart Health

Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart health — especially blood pressure control.

Despite its importance, few people get enough potassium in their diet.

Bananas are a great dietary source of potassium. One medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains 9% of the RDI.

A potassium-rich diet can help lower blood pressure, and people who eat plenty of potassium have up to a 27% lower risk of heart disease.

Furthermore, bananas contain a decent amount of magnesium, which is also important for heart health.

6. Bananas Contain Powerful Antioxidants

Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary antioxidants, and bananas are no exception.

They contain several types of potent antioxidants, including dopamine and catechins.

These antioxidants are linked to many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and degenerative illnesses.

However, it is a common misunderstanding that the dopamine from bananas acts as a feel-good chemical in your brain.

In reality, dopamine from bananas does not cross the blood-brain barrier. It simply acts as a strong antioxidant instead of altering hormones or mood.

7. Bananas May Help You Feel More Full

Resistant starch is a type of indigestible carb — found in unripe bananas and other foods — which functions like soluble fiber in your body.

As a rule of thumb, you can estimate that the greener the banana, the higher its resistant starch content.

On the other hand, yellow, ripe bananas contain lower amounts of resistant starch and total fiber — but proportionally higher amounts of soluble fiber.

Both pectin and resistant starch offer appetite-reducing effects and increase the feeling of fullness after meals.

8. Unripe Bananas May Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for many of the world’s most serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

Several studies reveal that 15–30 grams of resistant starch per day may improve insulin sensitivity by 33–50% in as few as four weeks.

Unripe bananas are a great source of resistant starch. Therefore, they may help improve insulin sensitivity.

However, the reason for these effects is not well understood, and not all studies agree on the matter.

More studies should be conducted on bananas and insulin sensitivity.

9. Bananas May Improve Kidney Health

Potassium is essential for blood pressure control and healthy kidney function.

As a good dietary source of potassium, bananas may be especially beneficial for maintaining healthy kidneys.

One 13-year study in women determined that those who ate bananas 2–3 times per week were 33% less likely to develop kidney disease.

Other studies note that those who eat bananas 4–6 times a week are almost 50% less likely to develop kidney disease than those who don’t eat this fruit.

10. Bananas May Have Benefits for Exercise

Bananas are often referred to as the perfect food for athletes largely due to their mineral content and easily digested carbs.

Eating bananas may help reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness, which affect up to 95% of the general population.

The reason for the cramps is largely unknown, but a popular theory blames a mixture of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

However, research gives mixed findings about bananas and muscle cramps. While some studies find them helpful, others find no effects.

That said, bananas do provide excellent nutrition before, during and after endurance exercise.

11. Bananas Are Easy to Add to Your Diet

Not only are bananas incredibly healthy — they’re also one of the most convenient snack foods around.

Bananas make a great addition to yogurt, cereal and smoothies. You can even use them instead of sugar in your baking and cooking.

Furthermore, bananas rarely contain any pesticides or pollutants due to their thick protective peel.

Bananas are incredibly easy to eat and transport. They are usually well-tolerated and easily digested — they simply have to be peeled and eaten.

It doesn’t get much easier than that.

The Bottom Line

Bananas are a popular fruit that happens to provide numerous health benefits.

Among other things, they may boost digestive and heart health due to their fiber and antioxidant content.

They may even aid weight loss, as they’re relatively low-calorie and nutrient-dense.

Ripe bananas are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth. What’s more, both yellow and green bananas can keep you healthy and feeling full.

Source: Health Line

Bloating is when your belly feels swollen after eating.

It is usually caused by excess gas production or disturbances in the movement of the muscles of the digestive system.

Bloating can often cause pain, discomfort and a “stuffed” feeling. It can also make your stomach look bigger.

“Bloating” is not the same as water retention, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. Put simply, bloating involves excessive amounts of solids, liquids or gas in your digestive system.

However, in some people, bloating is caused mostly by increased sensitivity. It just feels as if there is increased pressure in the abdomen, even though there isn’t.

About 16–30% of people report that they regularly experience bloating, so this is very common.

Although bloating is sometimes caused by serious medical conditions, it is most often caused by the diet and some foods or ingredients you are intolerant to.

Here are 11 proven ways to reduce or eliminate bloating.

1. Don’t Eat Too Much at a Time

Being stuffed can feel like being bloated, but the problem is that you simply ate too much.

If you’re eating big meals and tend to feel uncomfortable afterward, then try smaller portions. Add another daily meal if necessary.

A subset of people who experience bloating don’t really have an enlarged stomach or increased pressure in the abdomen. The issue is mostly sensory.

A person with a tendency to be bloated will experience discomfort from a smaller amount of food than a person who rarely feels bloated.

For this reason, simply eating smaller meals can be incredibly useful.

Chewing your food better can have a two-fold effect. It reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food (a cause of bloating), and it also makes you eat slower, which is linked to reduced food intake and smaller portions.

2. Rule Out Food Allergies and Intolerances to Common Foods

Food allergies and intolerances are relatively common.

When you eat foods that you are intolerant to, it can cause excess gas production, bloating and other symptoms.

Here are some common foods and ingredients to consider:

  • Lactose: Lactose intolerance is associated with many digestive symptoms, including bloating. Lactose is the main carbohydrate in milk.
  • Fructose: Fructose intolerance can lead to bloating.
  • Eggs: Gas and bloating are common symptoms of egg allergy.
  • Wheat and gluten: Many people are intolerant to gluten, a protein in wheat, spelt, barley and some other grains. This can lead to various adverse effects on digestion, including bloating.

Both lactose and fructose are a part of a larger group of indigestible carbs or fiber known as FODMAPs. FODMAP intolerance is one of the most common causes of bloating and abdominal pain.

If you strongly suspect that you have a food allergy or intolerance, see a doctor.

3. Avoid Swallowing Air and Gases

There are two sources of gas in the digestive system.

One is gas produced by the bacteria in the gut. The other is air or gas that is swallowed when you eat or drink. The biggest offender here is carbonated beverages like soda or fizzy drinks.

They contain bubbles with carbon dioxide, a gas that can be released from the liquid after it reaches your stomach.

Chewing gum, drinking through a straw and eating while talking or while in a hurry can also lead to increased amounts of swallowed air.

4. Don’t Eat Foods That Give You Gas

Some high-fiber foods can make people produce large amounts of gas.

Major players include legumes like beans and lentils, as well as some whole grains.

Try keeping a food diary to figure out if certain foods tend to make you more gassy or bloated than others.

Fatty foods can also slow down digestion and the emptying of the stomach. This can have benefits for satiety (and possibly help with weight loss), but can be a problem for people with a tendency to bloat.

Try eating less beans and fatty foods to see if it helps.

5. Try a Low-FODMAP Diet

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common digestive disorder in the world.

It has no known cause, but is believed to affect about 14% of people, most of which are undiagnosed.

Common symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, discomfort, diarrhea and/or constipation.

The majority of IBS patients experience bloating, and about 60% of them report bloating as their worst symptom, scoring even higher than abdominal pain.

Numerous studies have shown that indigestible carbohydrates called FODMAPs can drastically exacerbate symptoms in IBS patients.

A low-FODMAP diet has been shown to lead to major reductions in symptoms such as bloating, at least in IBS patients.

If you have problems with bloating, with or without other digestive symptoms, a low-FODMAP diet may be a good way to fix it.

Here are some common high-FODMAP foods:

  • Wheat
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Artichokes
  • Beans
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Watermelon

This diet can be difficult to follow if you’re used to eating many of these foods, but may be worth trying out if you have bloating or other digestive problems.

6. Be Careful With Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are commonly found in sugar-free foods and chewing gums.

These sweeteners are generally considered to be safe alternatives to sugar.

However, they may cause digestive problems in high amounts. The bacteria in your large intestine digest them and produce gas.

Sugar alcohols are actually FODMAPs as well, so they are excluded on a low-FODMAP diet.

Try avoiding sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol. The sugar alcohol erythritol may be better tolerated than the others, but it can also cause digestive issues in large doses.

7. Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements

Certain over-the-counter products may also help with bloating, such as supplemental enzymes that can help break down indigestible carbohydrates.

Notable ones include:

  • Lactase: An enzyme that breaks down lactose, which is useful for people with lactose intolerance.
  • Beano: Contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which can help break down indigestible carbohydrates from various foods.

In many cases, these types of supplements can provide almost immediate relief.

8. Don’t Be Constipated

Constipation is a very common digestive problem, and can have many different causes.

Studies show that constipation can often exacerbate symptoms of bloating.

Getting more soluble fiber is often recommended for constipation.

However, increasing fiber needs to be done with caution for people who have gas and/or bloating, because fiber can often make things worse.

You might want to try drinking more water or increasing your physical activity, both of which can be effective against constipation

9. Take Probiotics

Gas produced by the bacteria in the intestine is a major contributor to bloating.

There are many different types of bacteria that reside there, and they can vary between individuals.

It seems logical that the number and type of bacteria could have something to do with gas production, and there are some studies to support this.

Several clinical studies have shown that certain probiotic supplements can help reduce gas production and bloating in people with digestive problems.

However, other studies showed that probiotics can help reduce gas, but not symptoms of bloating.

This may depend on the individual, as well as the type of probiotic strain used.

Probiotic supplements can have numerous other benefits, so they are definitely worth trying out.

They can take a while to start working though, so be patient.

10. Peppermint Oil Can Help

Bloating may also be caused by altered function of the muscles in the digestive tract.

Drugs called antispasmodics, which can help reduce muscle spasms, have been shown to be of use.

Peppermint oil is a natural substance that is believed to function in a similar way.

11. See a Doctor to Rule Out a Chronic and/or Serious Condition

If you have chronic bloating that causes severe problems in your life, or becomes a lot worse all of a sudden, definitely see a doctor.

There is always the possibility of some serious medical condition, and diagnosing digestive problems can be complicated.

However, in many cases, bloating can be reduced — or even eliminated — with simple changes in diet.

 

Source: HealthLine

Meal planning can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re on a budget.

What’s more, coming up with delicious, nutritious, and kid-friendly meals can be quite the balancing act.

Still, plenty of recipes are not only scrumptious and nutritious for the whole family but can also get your kids engaged in the kitchen. Moreover, it’s possible to do all your shopping at once instead of constantly stepping out to the store.

Monday

Breakfast

Egg sandwiches with sliced oranges

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs (one per sandwich)
  • 4 whole grain English muffins
  • Cheddar cheese, sliced or shredded
  • 1 tomato (one slice per sandwich)
  • lettuce
  • 2 oranges (slice up and serve as a side)

Instructions: Crack each egg and add gently to an oiled or nonstick pan over medium heat. Cook until the whites have turned opaque. Gently place a spatula underneath, flip the eggs, and cook for another minute or so.

While the eggs are cooking, cut the English muffins in half and toast them until golden brown. Add the egg, cheese, tomato, and lettuce to one half, then place the other half on top and serve.

Tip: It’s easy to expand this recipe to yield more servings. Simply add additional eggs and English muffins as needed.

Lunch

Lettuce wraps with milk

Ingredients:

  • Bibb lettuce
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • matchstick carrots
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 block (350 grams) of extra firm tofu
  • 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise, sriracha, or other condiments as desired
  • 1 cup (240 mL) of cow’s milk or soy milk per person

Instructions: Slice the tofu, peppers, carrots, and avocado. On a large lettuce leaf, add the mayonnaise and other condiments. Next, add the vegetables and tofu, though try not to add too many ingredients to each leaf. Finally, tightly roll the lettuce leaf with the ingredients inside.

Note: Cooking the tofu is optional. Tofu can safely be eaten from the package. If you choose to cook it, add it to a lightly oiled pan and fry until golden brown.

Tip: For a fun family event, prepare all the ingredients and place them on a serving platter. Allow your family members to prepare their own wraps. You can also swap out the tofu for chicken or turkey slices.

Snack

Sliced apples and peanut butter

Ingredients:

  • 4 apples, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of peanut butter per person

Dinner

Rotisserie chicken with roasted vegetables

Ingredients:

  • store-bought rotisserie chicken
  • Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
  • carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup (175 grams) of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper, and pepper flakes to taste

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). In a bowl, mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, and spices. Place the vegetables on a baking pan and drizzle them with this mixture, then bake them for 40 minutes or until crispy and tender. Serve with chicken.

Tip: Refrigerate the leftover chicken for tomorrow.

Tuesday

Breakfast

Oatmeal with fruit

Ingredients:

  • 4 instant packets of plain oatmeal
  • 2 cups (142 grams) of frozen berries
  • 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of hemp seeds (optional)
  • a handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
  • brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1 cup (240 mL) of milk or soy milk per person

Instructions: Cook instant oatmeal in a large pot using water or milk as the base, following packet instructions for measurements. Just before it’s ready, mix in the frozen berries. Serve with 1 cup (240 mL) of milk or soy milk.

Lunch

Chicken sandwiches with tomato soup

Ingredients:

  • leftover chicken (from the day before) or sliced deli chicken
  • 4 whole grain ciabatta buns
  • lettuce, torn
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Cheddar cheese
  • mayonnaise, mustard, or other condiments as desired
  • 2 cans (10 ounces or 294 mL) of low sodium tomato soup

Instructions: Follow the directions on the tomato soup package, which may require stovetop cooking. For additional protein, use milk or soy milk instead of water.

Tip: You can let your family members make their own sandwiches. If you don’t have leftover chicken from Monday, use sliced deli chicken instead.

Snack

Hummus and sliced veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 large English cucumber, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 package of hummus

Tip: To get your kids involved, let them choose the type of vegetables.

Dinner

Vegetarian tacos

Ingredients:

  • 4–6 soft- or hard-shell tacos
  • 1 can (19 ounces or 540 grams) of black beans, rinsed well
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • lettuce, shredded
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • taco seasoning

Wednesday

Breakfast

Cheerios with fruit

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (27 grams) of plain Cheerios (or similar brand)
  • 1 cup (240 mL) of cow’s milk or soy milk
  • 1 banana, sliced (per person)

Tip: While you can use other types of milk, soy and dairy milk have the highest protein content.

Lunch

Egg salad sandwiches with grapes

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of store-bought or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) of Dijon mustard
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (151 grams) of grapes per person

Instructions: Peel the hard-boiled eggs and cut them into quarters. In a medium-sized bowl, add the eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Using a fork, mix the eggs and condiments. Make sandwiches using the whole wheat bread and lettuce.

Snack

Air-popped popcorn with drizzled dark chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (96 grams) of popcorn kernels
  • 1 cup (175 grams) of dark chocolate chips, melted

Tip: If you don’t own an air popper, simply add 2–3 tablespoons (30–45 mL) of olive or coconut oil to a large pot, then the popcorn kernels. Place a lid on top and cook until almost all of the kernels have stopped popping. Watch it carefully to avoid burning.

Dinner

Pasta with tomato sauce, ground turkey, and veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (900 grams) of macaroni or rotini noodles
  • 1 jar (15 ounces or 443 mL) of tomato sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup (175 grams) of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 pound (454 grams) of lean ground turkey
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste

Instructions: While the pasta is cooking, add ground turkey to a large pan and cook it over medium heat. Prepare the vegetables and add them to the pan. Pour in the tomato sauce near the end. Drain the noodles, add the sauce, and serve.

Tip: Make an extra batch of noodles or save extras for leftovers tomorrow.

Thursday

Breakfast

Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and banana

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole wheat bagels
  • 1–2 tablespoons (16–32 grams) of peanut butter
  • 4 bananas

Tip: Give your kids a glass of cow’s milk or soy milk for additional protein.

Lunch

Pasta salad

Ingredients:

  • 4–6 cups (630–960 grams) of cooked, leftover pasta
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 cup (150 grams) of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup (73 grams) of black olives, pitted and halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) orange or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • red pepper flakes (to taste)

Instructions: In a medium bowl, mix the olive oil, red wine vinegar, orange or lemon juice, honey, black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. Prepare the veggies raw and stir them into the cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add dressing and stir well.

Snack

Boiled eggs and celery sticks

Ingredients:

  • 8 hard-boiled eggs
  • celery sticks, chopped

Dinner

Homemade burgers with french fries

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (454 grams) of ground beef
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 package (2.2 pounds or 1 kg) of cut french fries
  • Monterey Jack cheese slices
  • lettuce leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • several pickles, sliced
  • mayonnaise, mustard, relish, ketchup, vinegar, or other condiments as desired
  • salt, pepper, and other spices to taste

Instructions: Prepare 4 patties with the ground beef, salt, pepper, and other spices. Place them on a baking sheet and bake them at 425°F (218°C) for 15 minutes. Prepare the toppings and place them on a serving tray. Cook the french fries according to package instructions.

Tip: Allow your kids to choose their own toppings and dress their own burgers.

Friday

Breakfast

Cottage cheese with fruit

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (210 grams) of cottage cheese per person
  • strawberries, sliced
  • blueberries
  • kiwi, sliced
  • drizzle of honey (optional)

Tip: Allow your kids to mix and match the fruit of their choice.

Lunch

Mini pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole wheat English muffins
  • 4 tablespoons (60 mL) of tomato sauce
  • 16 slices of pepperoni (or other protein)
  • 1 cup (56 grams) of shredded cheese
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 of an onion, diced
  • 1 handful of baby spinach

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Cut the English muffins in half, then add the tomato sauce, pepperoni, cheese, tomato, onion, and spinach. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Tip: To involve your children, allow them to assemble their own pizzas.

Snack

Fruit smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1–2 cups (197–394 grams) of frozen berries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup (250 mL) of Greek yogurt
  • 1–2 cups (250–500 mL) of water
  • 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of hemp seeds (optional)

Instructions: In a blender, add the water and Greek yogurt. Next, add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Dinner

Tofu stir-fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 block (350 grams) of extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 cups (185 grams) of instant brown rice
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup (175 grams) of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) of honey (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) of red wine vinegar or orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of sesame oil or vegetable oil

Instructions: Prepare the brown rice according to box instructions. While it’s cooking, slice the veggies and tofu and set them aside. To make the sauce, mix the ginger, garlic, honey, soy sauce, oil, and red wine vinegar or orange juice in a medium-sized bowl.

In a large, oiled skillet, cook the tofu until light brown. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel. Add the broccoli, pepper, onion, carrots, and 1/4 of the stir fry sauce to the skillet. Cook until tender, then add the cooked tofu, rice, and remaining sauce to the skillet.

Tip: You can use any leftover veggies in the stir fry to reduce food waste.

Saturday

Breakfast

Baked frittata

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (118 mL) of water
  • 1 cup (175 grams) of broccoli
  • 2 cups (60 grams) of baby spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup (56 grams) of shredded cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • salt, pepper, and pepper flakes to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Whisk the eggs, water, and spices in a bowl.
  3. Lightly oil a large skillet, cast-iron pan, or oven-safe pan with cooking spray.
  4. While the oven is preheating, sauté the veggies in a skillet or pan over medium heat.
  5. After a few minutes, add the egg mixture to the pan. Cook for 1–2 minutes or until the bottom is cooked and the top is beginning to bubble.
  6. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  7. Bake it in the oven for 8–10 minutes or until done. To check, place a cake tester or knife in the center of the frittata. If the egg continues to run, leave it for another few minutes and retest.

Lunch

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with strawberries

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of peanut butter or nut-free butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of jam
  • 1 cup (152 grams) of strawberries per person

Snack

Turkey roll-ups

Ingredients:

  • 8 mini soft-shell tortillas
  • 8 slices of turkey
  • 2 medium avocados (or a package of guacamole)
  • 1 cup (56 grams) of shredded cheese
  • 1 cup (30 grams) of baby spinach

Instructions: Lay tortilla shells flat and spread avocado or guacamole on top. Next, add one slice of turkey, baby spinach, and shredded cheese to each tortilla. Roll the tortilla tightly and cut in half.

Tip: To keep the roll-ups from falling apart, add a toothpick. Be sure to remove the toothpick before serving it to small children.

Dinner

Homemade chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (454 grams) of ground beef
  • 1 can (19 ounces or 540 grams) red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (14 ounces or 400 grams) of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 jar (15 ounces or 443 mL) of tomato sauce
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cups (475 mL) of low sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded cheese (optional as a garnish)

Instructions: In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in oil until translucent. Next, add the ground beef to the pot, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat has browned. Add all spices, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and red kidney beans.

Next, add the broth and bring it to a bowl. Reduce the temperature to medium heat and cook for 30 minutes. Top with cheese if desired.

Sunday

Brunch

French toast and fruit

Ingredients:

  • 6–8 eggs
  • 8 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (151 grams) of blackberries or strawberries, frozen or fresh
  • maple syrup (to taste)

Instructions: In a wide bowl, whisk the eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract until combined and fluffy. Oil a large skillet with butter or oil and bring it to medium heat. Place the bread into the egg mixture and coat each side. Fry both sides of the bread until golden brown.

Repeat this process until all the bread is cooked. Serve with fruit and maple syrup.

Tip: For an extra treat, top with whipped cream or powdered sugar.

Snack

Cheese, crackers, and grapes

Ingredients:

  • 5 whole grain crackers per person
  • 2 ounces (50 grams) of Cheddar cheese, sliced (per person)
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) of grapes

Tip: Many crackers are made with refined flours, oils, and sugar. For a healthier option, select 100% whole grain crackers.

Dinner

Quesadillas

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized soft-shell tortillas
  • 1 pound (454 grams) of boneless chicken breasts, sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 of a red onion, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup (56 grams) of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup (56 grams) of Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil, as needed
  • sour cream, as needed
  • salsa, as needed

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). In a large skillet, add the oil, peppers, and onion. Cook them for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and spices and fry until completely cooked through and golden on the outside.

Place each tortilla shell on a baking tray. Add the cooked veggies and chicken to one side of the tortillas, then top with avocado and cheese. Fold the other side of the tortilla over. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Tip: For a vegetarian option, you can use black beans instead of chicken.

Shopping list

The following list can be used as a shopping guide to help you gather groceries for this 1-week meal plan. You may need to adjust the portions depending on the size and needs of your family.

Vegetables and fruit

  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 package of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • 1 package of baby spinach
  • 1 large head of Bibb lettuce
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 large English cucumbers
  • 1 large piece of ginger
  • 2 packages of strawberries
  • 1 package of blueberries
  • 1 package of blackberries
  • 2 kiwis
  • 6 bell peppers
  • 1 pack of matchstick carrots
  • 5 avocados
  • 1–2 heads of broccoli
  • 7 yellow onions
  • 2 red onions
  • 4 bulbs of garlic
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 bag of Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 large bag of frozen berries
  • 1 bunch of bananas
  • 1 large bag of grapes
  • 1 jar of black olives
  • 1 jug (33 fluid ounces or 1 liter) of orange juice

Grains and carbs

  • 8 whole grain English muffins
  • 4 packets of plain, instant oatmeal
  • 1 bag of hemp seeds (optional)
  • 2 loaves of whole wheat bread
  • 1 package (900 grams) of macaroni or rotini noodles
  • 1 package of whole wheat bagels
  • 4 whole grain ciabatta buns
  • 1 package of hamburger buns
  • 1 package of instant brown rice
  • 1 package of mini soft tortillas
  • 1 package of medium-sized soft-shell tortillas
  • 1 box of whole grain crackers
  • 6 hard-shell tacos

Dairy

  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 2 blocks (450 grams) of Cheddar cheese
  • 1.5 gallons (6 liters) of cow’s or soy milk
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) of feta cheese
  • 1 package of Monterey Jack cheese slices
  • 24 ounces (650 grams) of cottage cheese
  • 24 ounces (650 grams) of Greek yogurt

Proteins

  • 2 blocks (500 grams) of extra firm tofu
  • 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can (19 ounces or 540 grams) of black beans
  • 1 can (19 ounces or 540 grams) of red kidney beans
  • 1 pound (454 grams) of ground turkey
  • 2 pounds (900 grams) of ground beef
  • 1 pound (450 grams) of boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 package of pepperoni slices
  • 1 package of turkey slices

Canned and packaged items

  • 2 cans of low sodium tomato soup
  • 1 can (14 ounces or 400 grams) of stewed tomatoes
  • 2 jars (30 ounces or 890 mL) of tomato sauce
  • 1 bag of chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 package of hummus
  • 1 box of original, plain Cheerios (or similar brand)
  • 1/2 cup (96 grams) of popcorn kernels
  • 1 cup (175 grams) of dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of peanut butter
  • 1 jar of strawberry jam
  • 1 package (2.2 pounds or 1 kg) of cut french fries
  • 2 cups (500 mL) of low sodium beef broth

Pantry staples

Since these items are usually pantry staples, you may not need to buy them. Still, it’s best to review your pantry inventory before shopping.

  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • mayonnaise
  • sriracha
  • salt
  • honey
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • vegetable oil
  • pepper flakes
  • brown sugar
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • taco seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese
  • pickles
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • vanilla extract
  • maple syrup

The bottom line

Coming up with a weeklong meal plan that meets the needs of your whole family can be tricky.

Notably, this 1-week meal plan provides your family with delicious, nutritious, and kid-friendly meals. Use the shopping list as a reference and adjust it based on your family’s needs and budget. When possible, involve your kids and other family members in cooking.

At the end of the week, ask your family members which meals they liked best. You can then revise this list or use it again for another week.

Source: Health Line

If the idea of a home workout makes you yawn, think again!

When executed correctly, using just your body weight can give you a run for your money.

So, whether the gym isn’t your thing or you’re short on time, clear out a space in the living room and prepare to sweat.

The 30 bodyweight moves we’ve detailed below can be scaled for beginner, intermediate, and advanced exercisers, so start where you feel ready and progress from there.

Beginner routine

Our 10 picks for beginner bodyweight exercises will provide a full-body workout.

Complete 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute of rest between each move.

This circuit should take about 15 minutes — a great beginner routine.

Bridge

Activate your core and posterior chain (a fancy term for the backside of your body) with a bridge. This is a great exercise to use as a warmup.

Directions:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and your arms extended by your sides.
  2. Pushing through your feet and bracing your core, raise your bottom off the ground until your hips are fully extended, squeezing your glutes at the top.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Chair squat

Squat to strengthen your legs and core, which will make everyday movements easier. Starting with a chair underneath you will help you master proper form.

Directions:

  1. Stand in front of the chair with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly out.
  2. Hinging at your hips and bending your knees, lower back and down until your bottom touches the chair, allowing your arms to extend out in front of you.
  3. Push up through your heels and return to the starting position.

Knee pushup

A beginner-style pushup, this move will help you build strength before attempting a standard pushup.

Directions:

  1. Get into a high plank position from your knees.
  2. Maintaining a straight line from your head to your knees, bend your elbows to lower yourself down to the ground. Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Push back up to start.

Stationary lunge

Hit your quads, hamstrings, and glutes with a stationary lunge.

Directions:

  1. Split your stance with your right leg in front. Your right foot should be flat on the ground, and your left foot should be up on its toes.
  2. Bend your knees and lunge, stopping when your right thigh is parallel to the ground.
  3. Push up through your right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps, then switch legs.

Plank to Downward Dog

This move will test your upper body, especially your shoulders. Who says you need weights for a shoulder workout?

Directions:

  1. Get into a high plank position, with your hands stacked underneath your shoulders and your feet close together.
  2. Keeping your core engaged and your hands and feet stationary, pike your hips up and back into the Downward Dog pose. Your body should form a triangle with the ground. Keep your neck neutral. Your gaze should be directed toward your feet.
  3. Hold here for a second, then return to the plank. Repeat.

Straight-leg donkey kick

Build those glutes with donkey kicks.

Directions:

  1. Get on all fours, with your hands aligned with your shoulders and your knees aligned with your hips.
  2. Keeping your back straight, push your right foot out to the imaginary wall behind you while keeping your leg straight.
  3. Your foot should remain flexed (toes pointing down to the floor) throughout. Take care to keep your hips square to the ground. Squeeze your buttocks at the top.
  4. Return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps. Repeat on the other leg.

Bird Dog

A full-body move that requires balance and stability, the Bird Dog pose is easily scalable to your ability level. Start with this version if you’re a beginner.

Directions:

  1. Get on all fours, ensuring your hands are directly underneath your shoulders and your knees are underneath your hips.
  2. Keeping your neck neutral, simultaneously extend your left arm and right leg, keeping your hips square to the ground. Pause here for 2 seconds.
  3. Return to the start position. Repeat with your right arm and left leg.

Forearm plank

A full-body exercise that requires strength and balance, planks put the core into overdrive.

Directions:

  1. Assume a plank position on your forearms. Your body should form a straight line from head to feet.
  2. Ensure your lower back and hips don’t sag. Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Side-lying hip abduction

You may not think about strengthening your hip muscles until they start to bother you, but please reconsider!

This is especially the case if you sit all day. Counteracting that with hip-targeting movements will be very beneficial.

Directions:

  1. Lie on your left side, with your left leg straight, right leg straight, and right foot resting on the ground.
  2. Lift your right leg up, maintaining the position of your body. Make sure your hips don’t open up.
  3. Return to the start position. Repeat for the desired number of reps, then do the other side.

Bicycle crunch

Although you’ll work your core with almost all of these strength exercises, a targeted ab move doesn’t hurt.

Directions:

  1. Lie on your back and bring your legs to a tabletop position. Bend your elbows, and put your hands behind your head.
  2. Crunch up and bring your right elbow to your left knee, straightening your right leg.
  3. Release the crunch slightly. Bend your right leg and straighten your left leg, then bring your left elbow to your right knee.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Intermediate routine

If you’ve mastered the beginner routine, you’re ready to take on these intermediate moves.

Complete 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise below, then move on to the next after 1 minute of rest.

An alternative, more advanced approach is to complete timed rounds. For instance, complete 1 minute of each exercise and repeat the circuit twice.

Compete against yourself to get just 1 or 2 more reps each time you complete the routine.

Single-leg bridge

Any time you take an exercise to a single leg, you’ll automatically make it harder.

Here, follow the steps for a bridge, but lift one foot off the ground while keeping your leg bent for an intermediate challenge.

Complete the same number of reps on each side.

Squat

Taking out the chair allows you to master the form of a regular bodyweight squat.

The same motion is still applicable here, though. Imagine you’re sitting down in a chair by hinging at the hips and pushing your bottom back.

Pushup

A standard pushup is the more challenging version of a knee pushup. Assume a high plank position and complete the pushup in the same way, allowing your elbows to flare out at a 45-degree angle.

Walking lunge

By traveling instead of staying stationary in a lunge, you’ll add aspects of stability, mobility, and balance.

Start with your feet together and step forward, lunging with your right leg. Stand up, then repeat with your left leg.

Pike pushups

Adding a pushup to your pike will target those shoulders even more. The movement here is all in the arms, so keep the rest of your body stable.

To perform, assume a pike position and bend at the elbows — allowing them to flare out to the sides — directing the top of your head toward the ground.

Get-up squat

Get-up squats are great for time under tension, or keeping your legs and glutes under continuous work, which adds to the burn.

Directions:

  1. Drop down into a squat position. You won’t stand at all during this move.
  2. Drop your knees down to the ground one at a time so you’re kneeling.
  3. Step your feet back to the ground one at a time, maintaining that squat position.
  4. Repeat as quickly as you can while maintaining good form.

Superman

Work your lower back — and the whole backside of your body — with a superman. Go as slowly as you can here to really reap the benefits of this move.

Directions:

  1. Lie on your stomach, arms and legs extended.
  2. Keeping your neck neutral, recruit your core and the back of your body to simultaneously raise your arms and legs up and off the ground as high as they’ll go.
  3. Pause for 1 second at the top, and slowly lower back to the start position.

Plank with alternating leg lift

Adding a leg lift to a regular plank makes you unstable, requiring your core to work in overdrive and your three limbs to support more weight.

Lift one leg up, hold for 5 seconds, and return it to the ground. Repeat with the other leg.

Kneeling side plank with hip abduction

Holding your body up with your knee and your extended arm during a hip abduction makes this move an upper body exercise, too. Plus, it recruits the core even more.

To perform, assume a kneeling side plank, then lift the free leg up, pause, and lower it back down. Repeat on both sides.

Dead bug

Activate those deep core muscles with a dead bug.

Directions:

  1. Start lying on your back, legs at tabletop, and arms extended in front of you.
  2. In a coordinated motion, extend your left leg and drop your right arm above your head, taking care that your lower back stays flat to the ground.
  3. Bring your leg back to tabletop and your arm in front of you, then repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

 

Advanced routine

When the intermediate routine becomes a breeze, take a stab at these advanced moves.

Bridge with leg extended

Lifting the foot then extending the leg straight out will make a single-leg bridge even more difficult.

Keep your foot flexed throughout the movement. Complete the same number of reps on both legs.

Overhead squat

Extending your arms overhead will challenge your mobility and range of motion in your upper body, as well as give your lower body the benefits of a squat.

To perform, complete a squat with your arms extended overhead throughout.

One-legged pushup

Lifting one leg will again put more weight into your other three limbs, thus creating more of a challenge.

To get it done, assume a pushup position and lift one leg off the ground, then complete the pushup.

Jumping lunges

Jumping exercises — often known as plyometrics — require you to give it your max effort for a short interval of time.

Because of the power and strength they require, you’ll feel the burn quickly.

Add a jump to your lunge, really exploding up in each rep, to challenge yourself.

Elevated pike pushups

Elevating your feet in a pike pushup will make this version the hardest.

Put your feet on an elevated surface, like a bench or a step, and complete an elevated pike pushup.

The higher the surface, the more challenging it will be.

Get-up squat with jump

Instead of stepping your feet back up from kneeling, jump them. You’ll need lots of power and strength for this move.

Advanced Bird Dog

Get into a high plank position, then complete a Bird Dog, lifting one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously.

As with all advanced exercises, maintaining a straight spine is key here.

One-leg or one-arm plank

Lifting one arm or one leg — and holding it there — will take a plank up a notch. Hold for as many seconds as you can, then switch sides.

One leg will be more challenging than one arm, so choose the right version for you.

Side plank with hip abduction

Plank off your foot instead of your knee for a full-body challenge in this hip abduction.

To perform, assume a side plank, then perform a leg lift. Repeat on both sides.

Hollow hold to jackknife

This move requires you to contract your abs throughout.

Directions:

  1. Get into a hollow hold position: Lie on your back and extend your arms above your head. Engage your core, lift your legs and upper body off the floor, and hold them there.
  2. Add in a jackknife: Crunch up, bringing your arms overhead toward your toes and your legs toward the center of your body.
  3. Slowly release back to the jackknife position and repeat.
The bottom line

Bodyweight exercises will make your at-home workout challenging no matter your fitness level. Start with our beginner routine, and in just a matter of months, you could be well on your way to mastering the advanced routine. Earn that sweat equity today!