Soaked Vs Raw Almonds: We Unveil The Truth

Widely known for its numerous benefits, Almonds are seeds or nuts of a tree called Prunus dulcis. They are native to Iran and its surrounding regions but are cultivated worldwide. We have all been recommended to eat almonds at some point in our lives as they promote a healthy lifestyle.

Packed with vitamin E, almonds act as an immunity booster. Apart from being a rich source of proteins, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, almonds are also one of the tastiest and most versatile tree nuts. 

Due to its versatility, people are often confused about the best way to consume almonds. There is often a debate regarding the benefits of having soaked almonds over raw almonds. Soaking almonds overnight for at least a period of 6-8 hours before having it is often recommended.

Here are 7 reasons why you should soak almonds before eating them.

  1. Eases Digestion: Almonds may be difficult to digest because of their hard texture. Soaking almonds overnight softens them making the whole process of digestion a lot easier [1]. Soaking almonds also leads to the release of the enzyme called lipase which stimulates the digestion of fats in the body. 
  2. Nutritional Content: Our body can absorb more nutrients from soaked almonds than raw almonds. The soft texture of the almond after soaking will facilitate chewing which in turn leads to the absorption of more nutrients. The outer brown peel of almonds contains a substance called tannin. Tannin is said to prevent nutrient absorption and inhibits the release of enzymes until proper sunlight and moisture conditions are reached. Once the almond is soaked in water, due to moisture the outer peel comes out easily allowing the nut to release more nutrients. Soaking almonds overnight also reduces phytic acid which inhibits nutrient absorption [2].
  3. Weight Loss And Aging: Soaked almonds are rich in antioxidants [3] which eliminate harmful free radicals from the body and prevents inflammation. Antioxidants like vitamin E delays the process of aging and help you maintain your younger-looking self. Soaked almonds also aid in weight loss. They are rich in monounsaturated fats because of which you can munch on almonds and satiate your midnight hunger pangs without gaining additional weight [4].
  4. Regulates Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Level: Soaked almonds help regulate cholesterol levels and blood pressure. They are rich in protein, magnesium, folic acid, potassium, which helps in combating heart diseases and reduces the chances of artery congestion [5]. Moreover, they help regulate blood sugar levels, which reduces the risks of diabetes [6].
  5. Better Taste: Some people prefer soaked almonds as they taste much better than raw almonds. Soaking the almonds makes it softer and gives it a better texture and taste. They are also easier to chew. Raw almonds are hard and have a bitter taste making it less appealing to eat.
  6. Skin and Hair: Soaked almonds can be blended with milk to be used as a face scrub and body moisturizer. This scrub acts as a great exfoliating agent and can also be used to treat skin inflammations. Using a hair mask with soaked almonds will give luster to your hair and help in preventing hair fall and hair damage due to their high nutrient profile.
  7. Other Health Benefits: The high content of folic acid in soaked almonds helps in reducing birth defects during pregnancy. They are often recommended to pregnant women as they are nutrient-rich and provide ample energy for the healthy development of the baby. Vitamin B17 present in soaked almonds helps to fight cancer and tumor growth [7]. Children are also encouraged to eat soaked almonds as they are said to boost their memory and act as a tonic for the brain. Constipation can also be treated with soaked almonds due to high fiber content.
    References:

    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854608/
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4276397/
    4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898316/
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946253/
    6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22296169
    7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986699/

Clean Eating & Anxiety: Is There A Connection?

Clean eating is sometimes dismissed as a ‘fad diet’, but it’s not really a diet and certainly not a fad. It’s based on the idea that eating whole foods, while restricting or avoiding processed foods can yield health benefits. This fundamental belief is supported by evidence[1], which shows that high intake of refined sugar, trans fats, and other additives can contribute to a variety of ailments. Not surprisingly, cutting back on processed foods and focusing on whole foods may also help cope with anxiety disorders. Although there is a need for more research, this idea is supported by animal studies [2], which show that diets high in sugar and fat can affect behavior. Research into the gut-brain axis [3] also points to the role of diet in brain function and mental illness. 

We’ll take a closer look at some food groups that are notable in the context of clean eating and anxiety relief.

Healthy Fats

Despite what you may have heard, not all fats are unhealthy. When we talk about healthy fats, we’re mainly referring to omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These nutrients are vital for brain health and are found most abundantly in foods like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Vegetarian sources of these healthy fats include flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans. Studies suggest [4] that adequate intake of these healthy fats can improve the brain’s ability to adapt to different situations, helping you cope with stressors more efficiently.  

These anti-anxiety benefits could be linked to the vital role that healthy fats play in the regulation of dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters. They are also known to reduce inflammation, which can protect against brain cell dysfunction that is linked to mental illnesses like anxiety.

Vitamins E & D

While balanced nutrition is essential and all of your vitamin requirements should be met, vitamins E and D deserve mention, as deficiencies in both vitamins have been linked to anxiety and depressive disorders. Vitamin E intake can be boosted by consuming nuts like almonds and peanuts, and by using oils like sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, but it can also be obtained from the same fatty fish that are rich in healthy fats. Other whole food sources of the vitamin include egg yolks, beef liver, and cheese. Vitamin D deficiencies are among the most common, so it’s important to get your levels tested and take supplements if you need to. 

Vitamin E works as antioxidant, protecting against free radical damage and is believed to protect against changes that increase the risk of anxiety and depression. Research shows [5] that vitamin E supplementation may even slow the progression of degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s. Similarly, vitamin D is essential for mental health as studies suggest [6] that vitamin D deficiency results in neuronal changes and a reduction in serotonin levels in the hippocampus. 

Minerals – Magnesium and Zinc

As with vitamins, adequate intake of all minerals is essential for the maintenance of optimal health. However, we now know that magnesium, zinc, and potassium play a particularly important role in the maintenance of mental health. Magnesium appears to be particularly important, as research suggests [7] that magnesium deficiencies are widespread among patients who suffer from depression. This important mineral can be obtained from whole foods including leafy greens like spinach and kale, pulses like chickpeas and soybeans, nuts like almond and cashews, seeds like chia, flax, and pumpkin, and whole grains like wheat, barley, and oats. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are also good sources of magnesium. 

Like magnesium, low serum levels of zinc have been observed in patients [8] with depressive disorders. Zinc may benefit patients with disorders like anxiety and depression as it is believed to increase Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (sometimes described as brain fertilizer!) in the hippocampus. Zinc intake can be increased by eating whole foods, especially red meats like beef, pork, and lamb. Shellfish like oysters are healthier low calorie sources of zinc. The mineral can also be obtained from the same nuts, seeds, pulses, and whole grains used to boost magnesium intake.

Probiotics

The role of probiotics in gut health, inflammation, and mood disorders is a burgeoning area of research and there’s much that we have to learn about the subject. So far however, studies do show [9] that probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, and tempeh, can help in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders because of the strong connection between the gut microbiome and brain function. One study published in the journal Gastroenterology [10] found that the functioning of brain regions that regulate emotion and sensitivity improved with daily consumption of 125gms of yogurt twice a day for 1 month. 

While our focus here is limited to a few food groups and nutrients, this in no way implies that other nutrients are non-essential. The importance of the nutrients mentioned here is emphasized as they are most commonly associated with anxiety disorders. In addition to ensuring balanced nutrition and increasing your intake of the foods mentioned here, you should also increase your intake of whole foods that are rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, as they are associated with a wide range of health benefits, including stress reduction and improved brain function. 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723973/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3762204/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31460832-the-microbiota-gut-brain-axis/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4540034/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9110909-a-controlled-trial-of-selegiline-alpha-tocopherol-or-both-as-treatment-for-alzheimers-disease-the-alzheimers-disease-cooperative-study/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6132681/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046018/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20156515-the-role-of-zinc-in-neurodegenerative-inflammatory-pathways-in-depression/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25470391-gut-emotions-mechanisms-of-action-of-probiotics-as-novel-therapeutic-targets-for-depression-and-anxiety-disorders/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3839572/

5 Reasons Why Should Include Chia Seeds In Your Diet

Chia seeds have grown in popularity in recent years. From cereals to salad and smoothies, these edible seeds are everywhere these days. The word ‘chia’ in itself means strength and the seeds are harvested from a flowering plant in the mint family known as Salvia hispanica. Once cultivated by the Aztecs, chia seeds were a staple of Mayan and Aztec diets.

Chia seeds are nutrient-dense and contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, minerals, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Don’t be fooled by their size, an ounce of chia seeds (about 2 tablespoons) contains 138 calories, 10 grams of fiber, 9 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein, as well as 17 percent of your daily calcium needs, 12 percent of the iron and 23 percent of your magnesium [1].

Chia seeds are tasteless, which means it can be added to almost anything – from granola bars to cereals, sauces, and baked goods. When added to water, these seeds expand to hold about 10 times their dry weight and swell into gel-like globules

Here are five reasons why you need to incorporate chia seeds into your diet

1.Loaded with Nutrients & Minerals:  A combination of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese makes chia seeds extremely nutrient-dense. You can get 20% of your daily calcium requirement from chia seeds, which makes it a great choice for people who do not consume dairy products [2].

Calcium is essential for bone health, while Manganese plays an important role in collagen production. Magnesium is known to improve mood and the quality of sleep, whereas phosphorus helps from cell structures and keeps the bones healthy. Whip up a smoothie with some chia seeds for a boost of energy. You can also sprinkle some seeds on your yogurt or oatmeal.

2. Full of Antioxidants: Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants which helps the body defend itself from cell damage. Antioxidants are known to fight free radicals [3], which contribute to aging and diseases like cancer. Add some chia seeds to our cereal for healthier and younger-looking skin.

3. High In Fiber: Chia seeds are one of the best sources of fiber as 40% of its weight is made up of roughage [1]. Its high soluble fiber content contributes to a feeling of fullness, which keeps you from snacking mindlessly.

This makes chia seeds a good option for people trying to lose weight. Fiber also helps keep the gut healthy and prevents constipation. It promotes slower absorption of your food which keeps blood-sugar levels stable. Add chia seeds to your salad or stir fry it with veggies for a healthy and wholesome meal.

4. Rich In Protein: Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein and amino acids, especially for vegans and vegetarians. About 14% of chia seed’s weight is protein, which is comparatively high when it comes to most plants [1].

Protein is crucial for our overall health and promotes healthy muscle growth and hormone balance, amongst other things. Protein also helps you feel fuller for longer, aiding in weight loss. Satiate your sugar cravings with some easy to whip chia pudding. Creamy, satisfying and packed with proteins, chia pudding is a healthy take on desserts.

5. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids: Often referred to as the ‘superfood’, chia seeds are the richest plant source of Omega-3. These unsaturated fats help keep the heart and brain healthy.

Omega-3 also protects the body against inflammatory diseases such as Arthritis [4]. Unlike flax seeds, you don’t have to ground chia seeds to benefit from its nutritional properties. The gel from soaked chia seeds can replace egg in vegan baking. You can also top your baked goods with toasted chia seeds for a healthy crunch.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627181/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4926888/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796167/

Understanding Antioxidants And Their Effect on Free Radicals

A walk down the aisles of a grocery store is proof of the fact that the hype around antioxidants is very much real. They are in your food, your packaged juice, and your skincare. Highly promoted by dieticians and health professionals, antioxidants are said to slow the aging process and help prevent vision loss, cancer, heart disease, and stroke, amongst other things. But what is an antioxidant and how does it work? Let’s take a closer look.

Antioxidants are a group of compounds found in food that share a chemical property. They are known for their ability to protect our body by neutralizing free radicals. They help prevent and reduce the damage caused by free radicals.

What Are Free Radicals?

By definition, free radicals are essentially unstable atoms and are natural by-products of chemical processes such as cellular respiration [1]. Additionally, free radicals are also formed from the air we breathe, the water we drink and things we consume such as tobacco or alcohol.

Our body needs the energy to function. We get this energy from the food we consume, which is then broken down in the mouth, the stomach, and the intestine and finally absorbed into the blood. Once in the bloodstream, sugars are made into energy within tissue cells by a process called cellular respiration, the by-product of which is free radicals.

Free radicals form when atoms or molecules gain or lose electrons. Because of their unstable and reactive nature, free radicals scavenge the body to find a replacement for their missing electron and regain stability. In this process, they end up damaging proteins, DNA and even cause cell death [1]. 

How Do Antioxidants Work?

An imbalance between the free radical and antioxidants leads to a state called oxidative stress, which leads to cell and tissue damage [2]. Factors such as lifestyle, diet, and environmental conditions contribute to oxidative stress, symptoms of which include headaches memory loss, fatigue, gray hair, and more.

This is where antioxidants come into play. They bind with the unstable free radicals by giving up their electrons. This terminates the oxidative chain reactions and the body’s cells and muscles are no longer under attack.

Sources of Antioxidants

Our body produces some antioxidants on its own, however, it is not enough. A diet rich in antioxidants is essential to keep the body healthy. Here’s a list of most common antioxidants and where you can get them.

  1. Vitamin A:  Orange vegetables like carrot, sweet potato and green leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage are good sources with vitamin A.  Vitamin A is also found in liver, milk, and egg yolks.
  2. Vitamin C: Citrus fruits such as orange, lime, kiwi are rich sources of Vitamin C. Additionally, green vegetables such as broccoli, capsicum, and spinach are also packed with this vitamin.
  3. Vitamin E: All kinds of nuts, sunflower seeds, and greens like spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of the vitamin. You can also find vitamin E in vegetable oils, avocados, and whole grains.
  4. Beta-carotene: This antioxidant is mostly found in fruits and vegetables that are red, yellow or orange. These include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, mango, apricot, cantaloupe, and carrot. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli also contain beta-carotene.
  5. Lycopene: Red fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, tomatoes, grapefruit, and papaya are packed with lycopene. Guava, red cabbage and bell peppers are also excellent sources.
  6. Lutein:  The best natural food sources of lutein are green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, kale, broccoli, and spinach.
  7. Selenium:  Animal produce and seafood such as ham, tuna, oysters, beef, beef, chicken, and shrimp are rich in selenium. Brazil nuts, tofu, cottage cheese, whole-wheat pasta, and mushrooms are great vegetarian sources of this antioxidant.

Additionally, dark chocolates, green tea, and coffee are also rich sources of antioxidants. If required, one can take supplements as per directions from the doctor.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10693912

Good Vs Bad: Choosing Healthy Fats

For years we’ve been told that fats are responsible for clogged arteries, obesity, and diabetes, among other things. However, not all fats are created equal. Knowing the difference between the good and the bad fats can help you decide which to avoid and which to eat.

Fat is a nutrient that is crucial for normal and healthy body function. The body uses it to build nerve tissue and it also supports cell growth. In addition, they are vital for the digestion, absorption, and transportation of vitamins A, D, E, and K. So, the fact of the matter is, our body needs fats.

To make the best dietary choices, it is important to understand the different kinds of fats and how they affect the body. There are 2 main types of fats – unsaturated and saturated fats.

Healthy Fats

Unsaturated fats are considered healthy fats and include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Unlike saturated fats, these are liquid at room temperature. Incorporating healthy fats in your diet can help you feel fuller for longer, thus promoting weight loss. To include unsaturated fats in your meals, consider drizzling a dash of olive oil, adding a few slices of avocado or a small serving of nuts.

  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: Eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps reduce bad cholesterol low-density lipoprotein (LDP) levels in your blood, which can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. They help your heart stay healthy by increasing the level of good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in your blood [1].

Some good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados, nuts, olive, peanut butter and cooking oils made from plants or seeds like sesame, sunflower, canola, olive, peanut, and soybean.

  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Polyunsaturated fats help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering your LDL cholesterol. The two main types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 and both offer excellent health benefits. These fats are essential for normal body functioning and cannot be made by the body, therefore they must be obtained from food. They play a role in many important body processes such as blood clotting and blood pressure regulation.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Studies suggest that Omega-3 is beneficial for heart health and reduces the risk of coronary artery disease [2]. They help lower the triglyceride levels in the blood, the increase of which puts the heart at risk. They are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Whereas flaxseeds, walnuts, nuts, chia seeds, and canola oil are some of the plant-based sources of this fatty acid.

  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Omega-6 fatty acids have also been linked to protection against heart disease and diabetes, and are an important source of energy for the body. These fats can also help with the symptoms and pain of rheumatoid arthritis [3].

Foods in omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils such as soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn oils.

Unhealthy Fats

Saturated and trans fats are the two main types of unhealthy fats. These fats are usually solid at room temperature, which is why they’re typically referred to as solid fats.

  • Saturated Fats: This type of fat comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease [4].

Processed and junk food have a lot of saturated fat, excess of which can lead to weight gain

  • Trans Fats: Trans fats serve our body no nutritional purpose [5]. Health experts recommend that the consumption of this kind of fatty acid should be as low as possible.

Meat and dairy products contain a small amount of naturally occurring trans fats. However, it’s artificial trans fats that are considered dangerous as it not only raises LDL cholesterol but also lowers good HDL levels. Being linked to heart disease and stroke [6], artificial trans fats have been banned in several countries.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5875103/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357022/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5634864/
  4. https://www.internationaljournalofcardiology.com/article/S0167-5273(18)36924-9/fulltext
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4016047/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26620830

Is It Okay To Drink Coffee During Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting has recently gained immense popularity among celebrities and fitness enthusiasts all over the world. Right from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to Hollywood celebrities like Hugh Jack and Kourtney Kardashian swear by the benefits of this dieting trend. Intermittent fasting is also one of the top-searched diets in 2019 according to Google Trends data [14]. As the name suggests, it involves eating during a certain number of hours in a day and fasting the rest of the time. 

What is Intermittent Fasting?
Whenever you eat, you get energy from glucose (sugar) in the food. Insulin secreted by the pancreas helps deliver glucose to the body’s cells. There, glucose is either used immediately or stocked for later access. In intermittent fasting, insulin production in your body is reduced as your body uses the stored glucose for energy. Once that glucose is gone, it relies on fat and leads to weight loss. The latest study published in the translational research journal reported that intermittent fasting can result in a 3-8% weight loss within 3-24 weeks [1]. This dieting trend also offers a myriad of other health benefits such as improving blood pressure [2], increasing sensitivity to insulin [3], and lowering cholesterol [4].

Can You Drink Coffee During IF?
If you are new to intermittent fasting, you may wonder whether you are allowed to drink coffee. Coffee, in itself, is a fat-free and almost zero-calorie beverage. It is what you add to the drink that increases the calorie count! As long as you feed your body with more calories, it won’t utilize the glucose that is stored in the fat cells and prevent you from getting the desired results. When you add sugar or milk to your coffee, it would add calories, fat, and glucose thereby breaking the fast. Black coffee is the safest beverage during intermittent fasting. 

Benefits of Drinking Coffee during IF
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a cup of regular black coffee brewed from ground beans contains just two calories [5]. Therefore, it does not considerably affect your fasting, in fact, it can be beneficial.

  1. Aids in weight loss
    According to a report published in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology in 2017, the caffeine contained in coffee can increase your metabolism and helps promote weight loss [6]. Caffeine and other constituents of coffee, such as chlorogenic acid and quinides also aid in weight loss [7]. Therefore a moderate coffee consumption is good for you while following an intermittent fasting routine.

  1. Improves brain function
    One of the main reasons behind the popularity of intermittent fasting is its potential to improve brain health and prevent age-associated neurological disorders. During fasting your body produces energy from fat in the form of ketones, a process that enables improved brain function [8]. Surprisingly, coffee also promotes ketone production [9]. Studies have also reported that coffee consumption reduces the risks of developing stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease [10]. The caffeine contained in coffee increases alertness, improves mood, and concentration enabling you to stick to the fasting routine.
  1. Reduces inflammation
    In a study published in Cell [11], Mount Sinai researchers mentioned that intermittent fasting reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases without affecting the immune system’s response to acute infections. Coffee contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, which may prevent inflammation [12]. Therefore, intermittent fasting and coffee intake may help reduce inflammation.

Just like the saying ‘excess of anything is bad’, you need to moderate your black coffee intake during fasting as it affects sleep quality or even causes cardiovascular function impairments [13]. 

References:

  1. https://www.translationalres.com/article/S1931-5244(14)00200-X/fulltext
  2. https://www.fasebj.org/doi/full/10.1096/fj.05-5263com
  3. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-328X/7/1/4/htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9363296?dopt=Abstract
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27824614
  6. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171890/nutrients
  7. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/84/4/682/4633022
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29086496
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28177691
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26677204
  11. https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(19)30850-5
  12. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/83/5/1039/4649470
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28603504
  14. https://trends.google.com/trends/yis/2019/US/?utm_source=social-influencer&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=yis2019

How to Calculate The Calories for Losing 1 Kg Of Weight

When it comes to losing weight, we often talk about shedding calories, but it’s essential to have a fair understanding of what calories are and how it affects your fitness goals. Having some knowledge about your daily calorie requirements helps you be on track to lose weight. Here, we explain how to calculate the exact number of calories to be burned for shedding one kilogram of weight.

What are calories?
Calories are a measure of units of energy as per the international system of units. The number of calories in a food is a measure of how much energy that food possesses. Your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), the number of calories you burn each day plays a vital role in maintaining your weight. 

Exercise, Diet & Calories
Exercise can regulate energy balance by affecting the intake and expenditure of calories. The more intense the exercise, the more calories you will burn. For instance, when researchers compared runners and walkers within a period of six years, they found that calories burned through running led to 90 percent more weight loss than calories burned through walking [2]. A study states that low-calorie diets (one that restricts your intake to 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day for men, and 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day for women) are a safe strategy for weight loss [3].

Calorie Requirement for Weight Loss
Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is responsible for burning 60 to 70 percent of the total calories you burn in a day. Calculating it is the first step to find out the calories for losing weight. Listed below are two formulas for calculating the BMR : 

  1. Mifflin-St Jeor Formula
    Mifflin-St Jeor formula is believed to give the most accurate results [4]. Here is how to estimate your Basal Metabolic Rate using the Mifflin-St Jeor formula:

Formula for estimating BMR in women:

(9.99 x bodyweight (in kilograms)) + (6.25 x height (in centimeters)) – (4.92 x age) – 161

Formula for estimating BMR in men:

(9.99 x bodyweight (in kilograms) + (6.25 x height (in centimeters)) – (4.92 x age) + 5

  1. Harris-Benedict formula for estimating BMR in women:
    It is one of the oldest and most commonly used formulas for calculating BMR.

Formula for estimating BMR in women:

BMR = 655 + (9.6 × weight in kg) + (1.8 × height in cm) – (4.7 × age in years)

Formula for estimating BMR in men:

BMR = 66 + (13.7 × weight in kg) + (5 × height in cm) – (6.8 × age in years)

After you estimate your BMR using the Harris-Benedict formula, the next step is to include the number of calories you burn during daily activities based on your lifestyle: 

Sedentary: If you do minimal or no exercise at all, multiply your BMR by 1.2.

Lightly active: If you exercise lightly for one or three days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.375.

Moderately active: If you exercise moderately for three to five days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.55.

Very active: If you perform hard workouts almost six to seven days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.725.

Extra active: If you engage in a very hard workout for six to seven days a week or have a physical job, multiply your BMR by 1.9.

The final number will be the approximate calories you require daily for maintaining your weight.

According to a study [5], a pound of fat is around 3,500 calories, therefore to lose 1 kg per week, you need to cut 7,700 calories from your diet each week or 1,100 each day. However, this number may vary depending on various factors such as gender, age, height, bodyweight, metabolic health, etc. Having a better understanding of calorie calculation can help you determine the best activities, both exercise, and non-exercise for meeting your fitness goals.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3630467/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23190592
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1319349/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15883556
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2376744/

 

Diet & IVF Treatment: Is There A Connection?

It’s been almost 40 years since the first baby was born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and today many people are opting for this treatment. IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. During this process, mature eggs are retrieved from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus. 

Several studies have reported that the success rate of IVF treatment is relatively high when combined with a tailored diet [1]. It helps manage issues such as ovulatory infertility [2], sperm DNA damage [3], poor semen quality [4], polycystic ovaries [5], and endometriosis [6].

What to Nutrients to Have During IVF Treatment?

  1. Folate-rich foods
    Folate can improve your fertility rate by increasing progesterone levels and reducing risks of ovulatory infertility [7]. It is also a vital nutrient for men who are trying to conceive. Studies have proven that folate consumption can improve sperm concentration and motility [8]. For including folate in your diet, consume daily servings of vegetables such as  broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and beetroot [9]. Fruits such as papaya, pineapple, orange, and other citrus fruits are excellent sources of folate. Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are also rich in folate.

  1. Iron-rich foods
    Research says that proper iron nutrition is essential for lowering the risk of ovulatory infertility, an inability to produce healthy eggs [10]. Include iron-rich foods in your diet such as meat, poultry, fish, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, eggs, raisins, etc. Also, to enhance iron absorption, it is necessary  to pair them with vitamin-C-rich foods [11].
  1. Healthy fats
    Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6). According to a study [12], omega-3 fatty acids can promote fertility in men by improving sperm morphology. Another one quotes that omega-3 acids can lead to improved pregnancy rates in overweight and obese women undertaking IVF treatment [13].

What Not to Have During IVF Treatment?
Just like how certain foods improve the chances of conception during IVF. There are certain foods that both men and women should avoid while undergoing this treatment, they are discussed below:

  1. Unhealthy fats
    Unhealthy fats such as saturated fats and trans fats can have a negative impact when consumed in excess. For example, processed red meat, an important source of saturated fat can lower sperm concentration and total sperm count [14]. Trans fats are usually found in fried foods, processed and baked foods. Therefore, refrain from such foods during IVF treatment.
  1. Alcohol
    Studies suggest that women who are planning to conceive should abstain from consuming alcohol as it can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle [15].  Alcohol can also affect the health of eggs and lead to fetus impairment.

  1. Caffeinated Beverages
    Limit the consumption of tea and coffee while undergoing IVF treatment. A recent study has revealed that  there is an increased rate of spontaneous abortion with more than 300mg caffeine/day [16]. Therefore do not consume more than 300 mg of caffeine per day during IVF treatment. If you can, refrain from it completely.

Diet plays a crucial role in increasing the success rate of your IVF treatment. A Mediterranean diet is one of the most recommended diets while undergoing fertility treatment. According to the latest study, this diet can improve the embryo yield in IVF [17]. It focuses on  high consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains, moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, and dairy products, and limited consumption of red meat. The healthier you are, the better your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby. 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6079277/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17209201?dopt=Abstract
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22935557?dopt=Abstract
  4. https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/20/4/1006/701270
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3752890/
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325092608_Endometriosis_and_food_habits_Can_diet_make_the_difference
  7. https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(07)00828-X/fulltext
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4614702/
  9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1541-4337.12193
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17077236
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2507689
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22416013/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26742065/
  14. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/144/7/1091/4615605
  15. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-4/274-281.htm
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5733907/
  17. https://rbej.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12958-019-0520-9

8 Foods To Eat Your Way Out Of A Hangover

Sometimes (often during weekends) you wake up with a terrible headache, dizziness, dry skin, and little memory of the previous night’s binge drinking with friends. Maybe you didn’t need to have that fifth drink, even though it tasted delicious. Now, we can’t do much about the last evening’s embarrassing videos and photos, but we could help you with the hangover, by suggesting these nutrient-rich foods.

What Happens in a Hangover?

That soul-crushing hangover is nothing but the alcohol interfering with the neurotransmitters of your brain. Alcohol is known to release reward chemicals like dopamine, hence you feel happy when you have a drink or two. Now, when the drinking stops your brain takes time to regain its regular balance of these happy chemicals, making you feel confused and sometimes sad. 

Additionally, when your body processes alcohol it creates a substance called acetaldehyde, which makes you feel nauseated and gives you those neverending headaches. If you drink moderately, your liver can get rid of acetaldehyde, however, when you binge it puts pressure on your liver, causing the sick-in-the-stomach feeling, literally. Of course, the dehydration and acidity due to lack of water and food, doesn’t help.

How Can You Fight Hangovers?

Since you can’t turn back time and drink in moderation, eat these foods the next morning to get rid of the hangover.

1. Bananas: When you are dehydrated, your body loses electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. [1] One banana has almost 12% of the potassium that a person needs daily [2]. Bite into this yellow fruit and see the magic.

2. Eggs: Your morning omelet is packed with amino acids that help produce antioxidants in your body. Now when you drink, it depletes your body of these powerful fighters that aid your liver to process alcohol. Eggs help fuel-up these antioxidants in your body, making you feel healthier and full [3].

3. Nuts: Alcohol stays in your bloodstream for 24 hours. Almonds, walnuts, and other nuts contain magnesium, which helps break it down for your liver [4]. This eases hangover symptoms.

4. Leafy Vegetables: Alcohol is known to attack the iron storage in your body, hence you feel fatigued the next day along with having a pale, dull skin [5]. Spinach, kale, and other leafy vegetables are rich in folate or iron and help replenish this nutrient in your body.

5. Ginger: This amazing root has a host of health benefits. It is ideal to cure a sore throat, nausea, and upset stomach that come with hangovers. It has anti-inflammatory properties and calms the acidity [6] in the body, soothing the throat and the stomach.

6. Coffee: If you’re severely dehydrated, coffee may not be the best option, but it might be a boon if you have it an hour after drinking enough water. It has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the stomach [7]. If you need to get to work, you will definitely need a caffeine pick-me-up after a fatigued and confusing morning. Stick to a light one with milk.

7. Other Fruits: Have water-rich and citrus fruits like orange, pineapple, watermelon, and berries that are packed with vitamin C and fiber to help your body recover. This vitamin helps slow down the conversion of alcohol into acetaldehyde easing symptoms of a hangover [8].

8. Oatmeal: Complex carbs in oatmeal provide a slow and steady release of sugar into your body, helping you avoid the spikes of high or low blood sugar [9], common after an alcohol binge. 

References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14044808
  2. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1846/2
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1930162/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23740536
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11505030
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/ginger
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S175646461200093X
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12499341
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1322250/

 

Top 5 foods for beautiful skin

We usually think that expensive serums or lotions are the reason behind someone’s glowing skin. Or maybe the person is plain lucky to have been born with a radiant blemish-free skin.

Yes, moisturizers, genes and expensive beauty products have a role to play. But it’s only a supporting role. The real hero behind gorgeous and lustrous skin is FOOD. So whether you want to get rid of acne, fight premature aging or reduce fine lines, eating right is the right way ahead.

After all, you are what you eat.

So, here’s the list of top 5 foods for beautiful skin-

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