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Healthy Diet Plan

Our body requires food to function. What kind of food you put into your system will reflect in your health. If you are eating healthy your body will look and feel healthy. But if you are just consuming food that have poor nutrition it will make you look unhealthy, sometimes out of shape, will lead to lifestyle related diseases, overall you will not feel great about yourself.

By following a healthy diet you are ensuring your body is getting adequate nourishment required for the day to day functioning of the body.Being healthy does not mean starving yourself or living on raw fruits and vegetables. Being healthy simply means being more conscious about what you expose your body to. Physical activity is also an important part of being healthy but unless you are eating a healthy diet you will not reap much benefit.

Here are a few dos of a Healthy Diet:

1) Carbohydrates are important as they are the basic energy source of our body. What you actually need to avoid are simple carbohydrates like maida & white bread but keep the complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, oats etc.

2) Eat a variety of natural foods like seasonal vegetables and fruits. Make sure you have at least 4-5 servings of these in a day. Your body requires vitamins & antioxidants to build immunity and stay healthy.

3) Have at least 8-10 glasses of water everyday.

4) You should include dairy for protein, Vitamin A & D , calcium, phosphorous for bone health and better metabolism.

5) Try to have foods that have high biological protein value like eggs, fish, dairy & nuts.

6) Moderation is key. Eat a little bit of everything to get the maximum benefits and stick to less processed food as much as you can.

 While we have told you what to do lets also highlight what not to do :

1) Skipping meal is old school. You might think you are cutting down on calories but you are actually depriving your body of key nutrition

2) Avoiding carbohydrates from your diet will make you only feel lethargic and over a period of time it will slow down your metabolism

3) Don’t over eat food just because it is labelled as healthy. Too much of anything can be bad .

Eating healthy is not restricted to people who are unwell or recovering from an illness. A healthy diet should be eaten to maintain general well being o the body. It is when we stop eating healthy that we start putting on weight, falling sick , have poor energy levels & in general not feel 100 percent .

Healthy is also the most used word especially when it comes to marketing a food or beverage. When a food is labelled healthy what does it actually mean .To ensure what you eat is healthy read the nutrition label on the food and understand how that food was created.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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Are You Intolerant to Milk? Some Alternatives to Dairy Milk

Milk is amongst the most nutritious beverage for all ages. It contains good amounts of calcium, protein and some other nutrients. But there are many among us who are intolerant to milk. In most cases, it means you are intolerant to lactose. Lactose intolerance is not the same as a milk allergy, which involves your immune system.

Lactose is the sugar in milk. If you’re lactose intolerant, a glass of milk or a bowl of creamy soup can give you intestinal trouble like cramps, gas, diarrhea, or bloating. That’s because your small intestine isn’t making enough of the enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down milk sugar so your bloodstream can absorb it well.

When a person is not able to tolerate milk then one should look after the loss of nutrients by consuming other milk alternatives, which actually makeup the lost nutrients in the body. Here are some milk alternatives for those who are unable to tolerate milk.

1.      Soya milk

Soya milk is the most popular milk alternative. Its main ingredient is soyabean. Soy milk contains no lactose since it’s made from soybeans, which are naturally lactose-free. Soy milk has the most similar nutrition profile to cow’s milk, with 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving and is often fortified with calcium, vitamins A and D and riboflavin. Soy iso-flavones have been shown to be beneficial in preventing heart disease and at least 10mg per day can decrease breast cancer recurrence by 25%.

2.      Almond milk

Almond milk is also like cow’s milk in texture, though slightly beige in color. It tastes faintly like almonds. It may have more calcium than dairy milk, along with vitamins D and E. But an 8-ounce glass of almond milk has only about 1 gram of protein.

3.      Rice milk

Rice milk is white, like cow’s milk, and thinner and sweeter than almond milk. It doesn’t work as well as thicker milks in sauces and puddings. It is low in protein, like almond milk. But you can find it fortified with calcium.

4.      Coconut milk

 Coconut milk is another alternative for lactose intolerance. It is creamy like whole milk. It has little protein, though, and about the same amount of saturated fat as whole milk — about 4 grams in a cup.

If you are lactose intolerant, do try these dairy milk alternatives to makeup the loss of nutrients in body.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Reasons to Avoid Soft Drinks & Sodas

When taken at face value, diet soda seems like a health-conscious choice because it contains artificial sweeteners which satisfy your urge for sugar without adding any calories. But there’s more to these chemical cocktails than meets the eye.

1) Devoid of nutritional value

Soft drinks and diet soda are devoid of any nutritional value, and don’t contain essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

2) Enhances invisible fat

Artificial sweeteners in diet soda and sugar in sugar sodas trigger insulin secretion which leads to increase in the level of triglyceride in blood. It also leads to deposition of fat in organs such as the liver. This further leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.

3) Colouring chemicals-Cancer

Colouring chemicals which are found in soda and soft drinks (2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole) are carcinogenic in nature and lead to cancer.

4) Accelerate ageing

Studies shows that phosphate and phosphoric acid found in colas and soft drinks acidify the blood and affect the action of glutathione, which is an antioxidant enzyme. In addition, these drinks lack any vitamins or minerals. By consuming these drinks, people cut their intake of water and milk and deprive themselves of essential nutrients which keep the skin healthy and glowing. Thus, the skin becomes dull and more prone to wrinkles and aging.

5) Effects on kidney

Soft drinks remove Calcium from the body, causing an excess amount of Calcium to be deposited in the kidney, resulting in nephrolithiasis (kidney stones).

6) Effects bone

Phosphoric acid present in all carbonated beverages causes removal of calcium from the body and leads to osteoporosis.

7) Effects of Caffeine

In most carbonated beverages, caffeine is added to make it more addictive. Caffeine in carbonated drinks is more readily absorbed than in any other drink (like coffee, chocolate etc.). Caffeine disturbs sleep by stimulating the nervous system. It also makes premenstrual syndrome worse, causes dehydration and induces the stomach to produce acids, aggravating hyperacidity. Since caffeine disturbs sleep, the body is more likely to produce C – reactive protein, which plays an important role in heart disease.

8) Messed up Hormones

It’s not just the soda that’s causing all the problems. Nearly all aluminum soda cans are lined with an epoxy resin called bisphenol A (BPA), used to keep the acids in soda from reacting with the metal. BPA is known to interfere with hormones, and has been linked to everything from infertility to obesity and diabetes and even some forms of reproductive cancers.

9) Unknown Side Effects of GMOs

Take a look at the ingredients list for any soda and chances are that most of those ingredients are derived from corn. Independent scientists have found that, in animals, genetically modified crops, or GMOs (Genetically modified organisms), are linked to digestive tract damage, accelerated aging, and even infertility.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Amazing health benefits of coconut water

Coconut water is the water like liquid that is found in unripe coconuts. In terms of health and goodness, coconut water is second only to water. It is extremely low in calories and full of nutrients. It is packed with calcium and minerals, and has more electrolytes than packaged sports drinks and more potassium than a banana.
The health benefits are:-
1. Helps in weight loss
It has absolutely no cholesterol, so does not increase body fat and also boosts your metabolism.

2. Lowers blood sugar level
Despite being naturally sweet, it is extremely low in sugar, so it lowers blood sugar levels and is very good for diabetics.

3. Lower blood pressure
It is low in sodium compared to energy drinks and high in chloride compared to sports drinks. Chloride reduces water retention in the body which lowers the kidney’s load and reduces blood pressure.

4. Regulates body temperature
Coconut water keeps you hydrated, which increases your body’s metabolism and even increases sweating. Sweating keeps your body cool and helps in regulating the body temperature.

5. Facilitates Digestion
Coconut water contains monolaurin, a monoglyceride which cleanses and soothes the digestive tract by actively killing intestinal worms that make digestion easier and reduce chances of digestive illnesses. Because of its high concentration of fibre, it aids in the prevention of indigestion and reduces the occurrence of acid reflux.

6. Controls Vomiting
Coconut water controls vomiting making it saviour for those suffering from ailments that cause vomiting such as typhoid, malaria or fevers.

7. Rich in Nutrient
Unlike any other beverage on the market, coconut water contains the five essential electrolytes that are present in the human body. These include: calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium. Because of its unique composition, coconut water can be enjoyed by individuals with varying medical conditions.

8. Compatible with Human Blood
Since it is isotonic to human plasma, coconut water can be used in extreme emergencies to quickly rehydrate the human body if administered intravenously. It is not uncommon for coconut water to be used an an intravenous drip in poorer, third-world countries to save human lives.

9. Boosts Hydration
The ingredients in coconut water are way more effective at hydrating the human body than energy and sports drinks. Coconut water serves as an ideal energy drink with 294 mg of potassium and 5 mg of natural sugar per glass, unlike your favourite sports drink that only contains half of the potassium content and five times the amount of processed sugar. In addition, the sodium count is only 25 mg, which is relatively low compared to the 41 and 20 mg found in sports drinks and energy drinks respectively.

10. The Ultimate Hangover Remedy
Next time you overdo it and drink more than your belly can handle, consume coconut water to soothe your stomach. It will also replace those essential electrolytes that exit the body if you experience bouts of frequent urination and vomiting.

It’s very beneficial to consume coconut water during the summer, especially if you live somewhere where the temperature and humidity levels are high. It rehydrates your body and provides essential nutrients. Make coconut water an essential part of your regular diet to benefit from it.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

The Nutrients your Body Needs Every Day

A healthy and balanced diet is the key to a healthy body. But a balanced diet should include a variety of nutrients. Below is a list of nutrients and their sources, and their recommended daily values.

-Calcium: It is a vital nutrient for the body as it helps in providing strength to your bones. Strong bones are less prone to fracture and diseases like osteoporosis. Calcium also plays a role in nerve transmission, maintenance of healthy blood vessels and muscle contraction. The recommended amount of calcium is 1g/day. To meet the daily recommended value add dairy products like milk, curd, paneer and green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, etc to your diet.

-Fiber: Dietary fiber helps in proper bowel movement and provides bulk to your stool which decreases the chances of constipation. It also helps in regulating blood sugar levels in the body as the presence of fiber in food slows down the absorption of the sugar. Soluble dietary fiber helps in controlling the levels of cholesterol by reducing the levels of “bad” fat from the body. The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 40g/day. Include fruits, vegetable, whole grains and legumes in your daily diet.

-Magnesium: Many studies have shown that magnesium with calcium helps in improving the bone mineral density in the body. Magnesium deficiency can affect calcium metabolism and a fluctuation in the levels of hormones that regulate calcium can result in osteoporosis. It is associated with lowering the risk of coronary heart disease and helps in regulating high blood pressure. It also plays a major role in controlling diabetes, migraines, insomnia, and depression. Recommended amount of magnesium is 410mg/day. Include nuts, whole grains, wheat germ, fish, and green leafy vegetables in your diet to increase magnesium intake.

-Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant which protects your body cells from free radical damage. Free radicals lead to break down of healthy cells and may contribute to heart disease and cancer. It also helps strengthening immunity. The recommended amount of vitamin E is 15mg/day. To get your daily dose of this vitamin include nuts, vegetable oil, eggs and green leafy vegetables in your daily diet.

-Vitamin C: Vitamin C is also a type of antioxidant that protects your body against free radical damage. Apart from this, vitamin C supports collagen production in joints. Collagen is a shock absorbing gel like substance which fills up the space between two bones in a joint. The recommended dose of vitamin C is 75-90mg/day. Rich sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.

-Vitamin A: Vitamin A plays a major role in maintaining vision, cell growth and promotes healthy tissue and skin. It also participates in physiological activities related to the immune system, inflammatory system, maintenance of epithelial and mucosal tissues, creation of red blood cells, and bone development. The recommended dose of vitamin A is 600-900 µg/day. Rich sources of vitamin A are sweet potato, carrot, spinach, Green leafy vegetables, etc.

-Vitamin D: Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium in the body and helps in building strong bones. It helps in regulating insulin activity and blood sugar balance in the body and prevents muscle weakness. The recommended amount of vitamin D is 600 IU/day. The food sources of vitamin D include milk, egg, and fatty fishes like salmon, tuna and some variety of mushrooms. To get your daily dose of vitamin D morning sunlight is the best source. There are hormones beneath the skin which produce Vitamin D with help from sunlight.

-Potassium: It is one of the electrolytes and even helps in managing electrolyte levels in the body. A diet high in potassium levels is associated with improved blood pressure control. It also contributes to improved kidney function, reduction in blood clotting, and more efficient opening of blood vessels. The recommended value of potassium is 4.7g/day. Five foods rich in potassium include Swiss chard, lima beans, potatoes, yams, and soybeans.

-Protein: Protein is the building block of tissues. It is required to repair the daily wear and tear of the cells in the body. Protein is an important part of the diet as it helps in building muscles. Recommended value of protein is 46-56g/day. To have recommended amount of protein in your daily diet include milk, curd, paneer, eggs, lean cuts of chicken, soy and beans in your diet.

-Iron: Iron is a part of red blood cells and helps in transportation of oxygen in the body. In case of iron deficiency, or anemia, the body’s efficiency to transport oxygen decreases. As a result you may feel lethargic and fatigued. The recommended amount of iron is 18g/day. Foods rich in iron include, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and pulses, whole grain, etc.

To have a healthy and balanced diet chooses your foods wisely to maximize the benefits of different nutrients.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

KALE-The latest power food and it’s benefits

Bored of seeing the same greens on your plate? Let us introduce to you -KALE, a super food for its exceptional nutrition value and taste.

It offers many nutritional benefits including calcium, fibre, vitamins,etc.

Calcium: 1cup (100g) of kale provides 150mg of calcium, which is more than that provided by milk of the same amount. Calcium helps in maintaining bone health. Lactose intolerant people can benefit from kale.

Vitamin-A: 1 cup of kale offers 9990UI, which is more than the amount of vitamin –A provided by same amount of spinach. This aids in eye health.

Vitamin –C: 1 cup of kale offers 120mg of vitamin C which is much higher than that found in the same amount of orange fruit. So it acts as an immunity booster.

Fibre: One serving of kale equals 10% of the daily fibre requirement of body. Thus it helps in digestion and keeps cholesterol and diabetes in check.

So a cup of spinach, orange, and milk can be replaced by a cup of kale for its Vitamin-A, Vitamin-C and calcium benefits.

Here are some suggestions on how can you include kale in your regular diet:
Salads: As the raw form is little bitter, steamed kale can be consumed in salads.
Chapatti: Kale can be boiled and pureed and mixed with regular wheat flour into dough and can be rolled into chapattis. This works even better than your multigrain-atta. One chapatti is 50 calories(approx).
Soup: Boil it along with other vegetables, blend and strain to obtain a clear soup. Unstrained form can also be consumed which is ofcourse a recommended option as it contains the fibre content of the vegetable. One cup of unstrained soup is 20-40 calories (approx).
Rice Pulao: Kale can be sauted in minimum amount of oil, along with other vegetables of your choice and boiled with rice. The preparation can be enjoyed with low fat yoghurt. One serving of vegetable pulao is 100 calories(approx)

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Top Food Sources of Calcium

Human body needs calcium to build strong bones when we are young and to keep bones strong as we get older. Moreover, it’s also needed for the proper function of nerves, muscles, kidneys and the heart. Not having enough calcium in the diet is one of the many factors associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and low bone density.

Expert’s advice to always initiate adding the calcium rich food sources before starting with additional supplements. Dairy products are the most obvious choice when it comes to calcium rich foods but they are not the only food source which provides calcium. Here’s a list of top food sources of calcium to help you get your daily recommended allowance -

Milk: A glass of milk is one of the best way to start your day and to fulfill your calcium requirements. Go for low fat milk and avoid adding high sugar flavoring powders. Go for cinnamon, cardamom or unsweetened cocoa powder. 1 cup low fat milk provides 102 calories and 305 mg calcium.

Yogurt: Yogurt is a tasty way to get your daily calcium. 1 cup low fat plain yogurt provides 154 calories and 415 mg calcium. It is one of the best food sources of calcium. Avoid flavored yogurts as they contain added sugar and calories. Go for home-made plain yogurt with fresh fruits.

Tofu: Also known as Bean curd, it is a soymilk derivative. It is a common component in many East Asian and southeast Asian cuisines. A little sour than our regular cottage cheese, 100 gm provides a good 350 mg calcium and 76 calories. Include pan-grilled or lightly sautéed Tofu in curries or salads.

Spinach: It can be used in various preparations and can be a part of every meal due to its unique taste and texture. 1 cup of cooked spinach contains 41 calories and provides 245 mg of calcium. It has been said that oxalates and phytates present in spinach hinder calcium absorption. However, cooking spinach reduces the effect of these compounds and helps in calcium absorption.

Sesame Seeds: These nutty and crunchy seeds are a rich source of calcium and good fat which also make them a must have food for

lactating women. 1 tbsp of sesame seeds provides 52 calories and 88 mg calcium. But make sure you do not go overboard with the quantity.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Is Ice-Cream A Source of Dairy?

Ice-cream is one of the most favorite milk based dessert. For some it’s a reward for scoring well in exams, for some it is to celebrate a special moment and some eat it leisurely as a source of calcium. But can this dairy product contribute to your daily calcium requirements and maintain your bone strength? Let’s find out -

Ice-cream is made by churning and chilling a mixture containing high-fat milk or cream, fructose or glucose-based sweeteners, usually in the form of corn syrup, and flavorings such as vanilla or chocolate. When the mixture freezes, it develops the rich, creamy consistency of ice-cream.

The nutritional content of different type of ice-creams varies but in general it is an energy dense food. It mainly comprises of carbohydrates and fats. Half a cup of ice-cream contains 15-18 gms of carbohydrates and 7-10 gms of fat. Half a cup of vanilla ice-cream provides 137 calories, as compared to 1 glass of skimmed milk which has 93 calories majorly providing good quality protein.

Ice-cream is a high-fat food, since it must contain greater than 10 percent milk fat to be designated ice-cream, with some products having as much as 16 percent. Milk fat is largely cholesterol, a saturated fat. When your blood cholesterol level is too high, it can build up as plaque, a fatty deposit in your arteries that interferes with blood flow and raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. Ice-cream is also high in sugar, which makes up the majority of its carbohydrate content. Consuming too much sugar may contribute to health problems such as weight gain, cavities and increased levels of blood triglycerides, another unhealthy type of fat.

According to experts, foods made from milk which have little to no calcium, such as full cream milk cheese, butter, ice-cream are not considered part of the dairy group. These products contribute significant amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat and if consumed on regular basis can increase risk of lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes, weight gain etc. To lower your risk for high cholesterol and sugar-related problems, consume ice-cream in moderation or chose low fat substitutes. Some ice-cream substitutes like frozen desserts are marketed as a low fat low calorie product but these can be high in sugar containing as high as 40 gms of sugar. So, the rule of thumb is to eat your favorite scoop in moderation and pick healthy milk derivatives like low fat milk, low fat cottage cheese, curd and buttermilk to complete your daily calcium requirement.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

List of Healthy Snacks

Are putting on weight due to snacking? We all know that eating at odd hours leads to weight gain. But how do you deal with hunger pangs without starving yourself. To answer one of the most common dilemmas of how to control snacking we have put together a list of healthy snacks alongside some not so healthy snacks. This is done to explain why you should be eating this and not that.

Healthy Sandwich (Cr/freedigital)

Before we move on to the healthy vs unhealthy snack list you need to understand snacks are just fillers or small bites. Most people eat snacks like a meal and thats where the problem starts. When one samosa becomes two or one sandwich becomes two sandwiches.

To elaborate a little bit more here are some points to note

While snacking eat slowly and enjoy every bite that you eat. Eating slowly makes you chew the food properly and eat less also. This helps you in managing portion and not over eating.

Don’t snack on empty calories even though you can manage the portion because it will add no nutrition and only calories.

You could choose low fat dairy, eggs, seeds and nuts, fruits and veggies as a snacking option.

Lets further explain it with an example on how to control your calories better if you are on a weight loss routine. A man weighing 80 kgs and 175 cms would approximately require 2000 calories in a single day. To break it further he would have a daily quota  of 250 calories for 2 snacks in a day. While a women weighing 50 kg and 5 feet 2 inches would require approximately 1400 calories in a day and 175 calories each for snacking twice in a day. This means you can divide your snack for once during mid morning and once in the routine evening. But remember snacking includes your tea/coffee/coke/lemonade etc! (more…)

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Are Dried Figs Healthy for Weight Loss

Figs can be eaten either fresh or dry and has a sweet taste and variety of health benefits that it provides. Though in India fresh Figs are not easily available but can be found in the form of dry fruits popularly known as Anjeer. The high amount of calcium, iron and potassium present in it along with the high amount of fiber and low fat makes it a healthy food to include in your diet which can be eaten alone or mixed in yogurt, salad and toppings on cereals and oatmeal.

Fresh Figs (Cr/freedigital)

Figs are  nutritious but do they help in weight loss ? Should one eat figs regularly if you are trying to lose weight. Lately figs are fast becoming popular with nutritionists that are recommending it as a part of weight loss diets. Let us help you understand why it might not be the healthiest weight loss food option.

Lets start with understanding the calorie and nutrition content of figs. Figs are rich in Vitamins A, B1 and B2, manganese and potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, and phosphorus. The high levels of potassium and low sodium helps people with hypertension. High calcium levels present in figs promote bone health. High mucilage content in figs, helps to heal and protect sore throats. Figs also contain beta-carotene as well as benzaldehyde (anti-cancer compound), flavonoids and a digestive enzyme called ficin.

Dried figs provide higher amount of calories than fresh figs and around 100gms provide 220 calories approx. Though it is recommended to be eaten in moderations but its sweet taste and pulp makes it addictive making you eat more than actually required. Other than the calories figs are sweet and have a medium glycemic index of 61 and a glycemic load of 16 which is high.

The high glycemic load (GL) of figs makes the blood sugar levels rise as dried figs quickly release high level of sugar in the body which may not be helpful for people on weight loss and people suffering from type 2 diabetes. The high amount of fiber and high glycemic load makes the body feel satisfied. The GL provides energy and makes you feel fuller longer making you crave less food. This might make you miss out on a balanced diet which is essential to regulate the metabolism in the body.

Besides it high glycemic load figs have other benefits also. The high fiber content improves digestion and benefits people with constipation. The fiber helps in throwing away the toxins out of the body. They have anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidants present in them fights diseases and cancer in the body. They help regulate blood sugar levels and reduces cholesterol in the body.

Foods that are sweet and provide quick energy should be eaten early in the day so that the energy released by them can be burnt in the day itself. Also figs are recommended to people who have iron deficiency. Every diet especially available online is very generic and might not be applicable to you. You need a diet plan that is customized to your lifestyle, eating habits and medical conditions. Its important to get professional consultancy from a qualified fitness expert before you start any diet plan.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo