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Is Your Sodium Intake Aging You Faster?

The bodies of different people age at different rates. The exact biological reasons for the rate of aging are not known as yet, but there are many theories behind it. If you indulge in processed, salty foods and/or high sugar foods and are also overweight, then you are at a serious risk of aging faster.

Sodium is an essential mineral need by the human body, but most of us eat more than we actually need to. Sodium exists mostly in all foods but the amount varies. The main reason of for adding salt to foods is to enhance flavour, to preserve and maintain food texture. Sodium is a vital component needed for proper functioning of the nervous system in the body. Sodium chloride is what exactly is found in most foods. But excess of it can be harmful in the long run. High intake of sodium can lead to hypertension and stroke. Over consumption of sodium may even get you into trouble of contracting oedema, cardiovascular disorders and may synergistically accelerate the ageing process by affecting your metabolism.

A lot of research studies are on to explore telomeres. In recent years telomeres have been associated with many age related disorders. According to researches it had been found that intake of high sodium foods has negative effect on the length of telomeres. Telomeres are basically the caps at the end of chromosomes. They have a particular length and these telomeres gradually shorten with time, which according to studies could be key to the rate of aging. Shorter telomeres have been associated with the ageing process. Telomeres are crucial for chromosome stability also. There are several other factors which have been associated with the shortening of telomeres such as smoking, aging, physical inactivity, high level of body fat and many more. Nowadays, youngsters are indulging in too many processed food loaded with sodium viz., not only table salt but added preservatives also like mono sodium glutamate, sodium bisulphite, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate and many more.

Some of the foods which have high content of sodium include pickles, beef, bacon, salami, soya sauce, salted peanuts, fried potato chips, canned vegetables and some processed cheeses.
Scientists found that among overweight and obese teenagers, those with a high sodium intake had significantly shorter telomeres than those in the low intake category. It had been proved people with lower sodium intake in their diet have longer telomeres than people with high sodium in their foods. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter and there comes a time when cells stop dividing and eventually die.

It is difficult to limit sodium content in today’s day and age where markets are flooded with limitless dangerous processed foods and beverages. What you can do though to reduce your sodium intake, is to cut down or minimize your processed food consumption, as most of our sodium intake comes from restaurant foods and processed foods. Opt for home cooked food or low sodium foods as per your body’s requirement. Drink plenty of water as it flushes out excess sodium from your body. Daily dietary requirement of sodium is around 2400 mg per day for a normal healthy adult. If you are hypertensive, overweight or are medically obese, then you must lower your sodium intake and this should help you to slow down or delay your aging process and prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Some tips that you could follow to delay aging are:

1. Try to add herbs and spices instead of salt to your food, for enhancing flavour.
2. Make it a habit to read the label on the food packet and see the amount of sodium in it.
3. Try to avoid adding more salt to your meals.
4. Don’t mislead yourself by thinking that organic salt, sea salt or natural salt might be healthy or harmless to you. Salt is always salt and contains sodium.
5. Try to improve your snacking habits by opting for fruits or nuts rather than a packet of chips or fries.
6. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over canned or processed foods.

Follow these tips and you’ll control your sodium intake

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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High salt intake in childhood might be linked to obesity

High salt intake has been blamed as one of the root causes for obesity in adults. And now research shows that it even applies to children. Research published in the journal Pediatrics shows that the more salt children consume; the more they slurped on sugar-sweetened drinks. And those who drank more than a serving a day were 26% more likely to be overweight or obese, suggesting that salt may be part of the chain of events contributing to the childhood-obesity epidemic.

Apart from this study, one of the research studies also showed that adults or children who ate more salt, felt thirstier and consumed more fluid. This has been quoted by Carley Grimes, the study’s lead author, a dietitian and doctoral student at Deakin University in Australia. The amount of salt in your blood rises and to control it, your body gets thirsty. But the problem with adolescents is that, when they feel thirsty, they try to reach out for soda and sugar based drinks instead of water, which ultimately leads to unhealthy weight gain.

Salt-rich diets could be the key to why some children battle with obesity, according to a research at the University of London. In a study of data on 1,600 children, they found that children eating a salty diet tend to drink more, including more sugary sodas and drinks.

The researchers calculated that for every gram of salt those children consumed, they also drank 17 g of sugary drinks. The kids who did not commonly drink sugar-sweetened beverages wound up eating more than half a gram of salt less than the group of kids who drank sugary drinks. “That’s significant,” says Grimes. “It’s a bag of chips a day”

It is very important to educate adolescents about salt intake. Here are some tips which can be inculcated in your lifestyle, to help reduce salt intake.
1. Try to consume home cooked food most of the time.
2. Stick to fruits, salads and vegetables.
3. Consume calcium rich foods like milk and other dairy products.

Other than obesity, a high salt diet can trigger other health problems like high blood pressure and cardiovascular ailments. Controlling salt intake might be difficult in India, since salt consumption is high across all regions and foods. Try to refrain from adding extra salt to home food, or when eating out.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

What Are Healthy Snack Options At Work?

Working long hours at office can make it difficult for a working professional to stick to a healthy diet. It is very important to understand the importance of healthy snacking. Healthy snacking keeps you away from piling up unhealthy fat in your body, other than keeping up your energy levels at work. So it’s very important to plan ahead about your daily snack options. Let’s discuss a few healthy and relatively convenient snack options at work.

1. Fruits

Seasonal fruits are one of the best options for snacking. It is a complete package of antioxidants and fiber which boosts immunity and protects from diseases. Fruits also give you a boost of energy and have a high satiety level.

2. Roasted chana(chickpeas)

They are a good combination of protein, fibre, calcium and magnesium. A handful of roasted chickpeas can be one of your snack options which not only give you satiety but also provide other essential nutrients to your body.

3. Almonds

When there is a craving between meals then a snack option you can opt for without a second thought is almonds. Almonds are not only dense with nutrients but also provide energy and keep you fuelled for long. It contains healthy fats, protein, vitamin E and magnesium.

4. Murmura-chana mixture

It is a light and nutritious mixture which can be considered an occasional snack option .It is low calories and fat and can be made healthier and tastier by adding chopped tomatoes, onion, and cucumber in it with a dash of coriander chutney.

5. Trail mix

Trail mix or a mix of either dry fruits, nuts or healthy cereals is a healthy and easy to carry option for working people. It is a good option to keep it in a small jar on your work desk. It is a complete of package of major and minor nutrients. A small portion of either of the mixtures will provide energy and control cravings.

6. Yogurt

Low fat yogurt contains calcium and protein and provides satiety. 1 cup of low fat plain yogurt can be a good option for snacking. Packaged but plain and non flavored yogurt is easily available.

7. Cottage cheese

Low fat cottage cheese/paneer/chhena is a good source of protein and not only provides satiety, but even energy. It can be consumed with seasoning, chopped veggies or fruits. It is can be carried easily to the work place.

8. Coconut water

Coconut water is healthy and one of the best drinks to hydrate the body. Besides helping to remove toxins from the body and aiding in digestion, coconuts have amazing anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that help to cure many diseases.1 glass of coconut water can be added as a snack in place of tea or coffee.

9. Green tea with apple

A cup of green tea can be a good alternative to a snack. If you add an apple to that, it will add a dose of antioxidants and fiber to your diet.

10. Peanut butter sandwich

Peanut butter whole wheat bread sandwiches are a good option for snacking. Make this old-fashioned treat healthier by using whole-grain bread instead of white bread. Whole grains contain more fiber, B vitamins and minerals than refined grains. Instead of spreading a tablespoon of peanut butter, try to stick to 1 teaspoon of it.

11. Tomato-cucumber sandwich

Tomato – cucumber sandwich with added coriander chutney will be a healthy and easy to carry snack option for working professionals, as it is a good combination of satiety and essential nutrients.

12. Sprouts

It is a power food which comprises of protein and is easily digested. It keeps you full for long durations. The best sprouting can be done with moong dal, chana dal. One can always make it healthier and fiber rich by adding vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, boiled potatoes and onions.

13. Yogurt with fruits

Do not confuse this with packaged fruit yogurt . We are talking about plain low fat yogurt with a sprinkling of your favorite fruits. It is extremely healthy and tasty and does not require any unhealthy additives such as sugar.

14. Low sugar Dark chocolates

A small serving of low sugar dark chocolates can boost your mood, energy and efficiency levels at work. It is even packed with antioxidants and will take care of any craving that you might have. But please stick to a very small serving and do not get carried away.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Child’s Health Could Be Linked to the Father’s Diet

It is important to take care of a pregnant mother’s nutrition. Researches revealed that the mother’s nutrition directly influences the health of the new born, but it’s just not the mother whose diet affects the health of the new born. Studies have found that the father’s eating habits before conception also affect the future health of the new born.

Research was done by Kimmins of Mc Gill University, on the affect of folate (found in all green leafy vegetables, fruits, cereals and meat) or Vitamin B9 on new borns. Folate tablets are recommended by Doctors to pregnant mothers to prevent miscarriages and birth defects.

Kimmins research revealed that fathers should also focus on folate consumption before conception because the father contributes to half the hereditary information passed on to the child. Due to insufficient levels of folate in the father, it may lead to a 30% increase in the risk of birth defects. This is in comparison to a father who had received sufficient amount of folate which is 400mcg /day.

So Kimmins said that “Men are not just responsible for their health. They are also responsible for their future offspring”.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

12 Simple Tips to Lose Belly Fat

Making small changes in your daily lifestyle can help you get rid of the fat. Beginning a fat loss diet doesn’t have to mean a drastic change. Incorporate minor adjustments into your lifestyle and you will see how it all adds up to big calorie savings and fat loss.

1. Evaluate your eating habits:-
Begin by evaluating your eating habits, such as late night eating, nibbling while cooking etc. Identify a few of these habits and refrain from them. This will all add up to big calorie savings and fat loss.

2. Plan your meal:-
Plan your meals and snacks when you are going to be out for long. Pack healthy snacks and identify healthy meal options outside.

3. Schedule your meals:-
Having a meal schedule and sticking to it prevents you from binging.

4. Eat while sitting:-
Eat your food while sitting down at a table, from the plate. Eat consciously. Food eaten out of packages and while standing makes people eat faster, and eat more than they need to, resulting in overeating.

5. Turn off TV:-
Turn off the TV while eating because people eat 40% more while watching TV and are more likely to eat junk food when distracted.

6. Have fruits and vegetables:-
Add fruits and vegetables  to your diet because it enhances the satiety value.

7. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly:-
Eat mindfully, chew slowly, and savor the taste of the food. According to a research, people who ate slowly and drank more water, refrained from overeating. Researchers also say that those who ate slowly consumed 88 fewer calories than faster eaters.

8. Have breakfast:-
Breakfast could be your best friend. In fact, breakfast is the most important meal of the day because the food which we have during breakfast gets digested and absorbed completely and gives the feeling of satisfaction for a longer duration, preventing us from overeating.

9. Don’t  eat after dinner:-
Don’t eat after the dinner, because this could add a lot of unnecessary calories. Brushing your teeth after dinner helps to reduce the temptation to eat again.

10. Get some sunshine:-
It will boost your vitamin D3 levels, which are linked to increasing your body’s fast (skeleton muscles) twitch muscles which enhances athletic performance.

11. Take proper sleep:-
Sleep plays a very crucial role in losing weight. Sleep suppresses your appetite and raises your metabolism, while allowing your body to rest and recover. So aside from leading an active lifestyle and maintaining a balance diet, you should also make sure that you get a full eight hours of sleep.

12. Minimize stress:-
Research indicates that the secretion of cortisol (a stress hormone) is correlated with increasing abdominal fat. Some strategies for combating everyday stress:
A) Enough sleep.
B) Set aside some time every day, to relax.
C) Keep your stressors away from your sleeping area.


— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

7 ways to Naturally Lose Weight

You want to lose weight but are not sure where to start? Here are 7 ways to help you lose weight naturally.

1. Sleep for 8 hours: Many studies have shown that an erratic sleeping pattern can disturb the physiology of your body. When you do not get enough sleep it may lead to cravings and an unnecessary consumption of calories. Also, lack of sleep can cause imbalance in your hormonal levels and can slow down your metabolism. Therefore, sleep for a minimum 8 hours a night to avoid cravings and empty calories.

2. Stay hydrated: Consuming enough water keeps you hydrated and helps your internal organs function properly. When fully hydrated your body eliminates waste more effectively, which can make the digestive system more efficient and can help you in losing weight. Recommended amount of water is 10-12 glasses per day.

3. Green Tea: Green tea is a good source of antioxidants. Polyphenols present in green tea have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects. Unsweetened brewed green tea is a zero calorie beverage and contains much less caffeine than tea/coffee. It is also known to have different health benefits such as preventing stress, chronic fatigue, treating skin conditions and improving arthritis by reducing inflammation.

4. Increase Protein intake: Protein takes longer to get digested and therefore keeps you full for longer. However, increasing protein intake does not mean that you have to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Your body needs carbohydrates to produce energy and protein to build muscles; therefore, it is required to keep a balance between protein and carbohydrates. Good sources of protein include eggs, milk, yoghurt, cheese, beans, fish, soy and lean cuts of chicken and beef. But to balance their protein content include vegetables, multigrain bread or chapattis in your meals in combination.

5. Avoid Sodium: Sodium is a mineral which maintains the electrolyte balance of your body. But excessively consuming foods high in sodium leads to water retention in the body, thus increasing your weight on the scale. Limiting the amount of sodium in your diet can help your body to expel the retained water. Major source of sodium in diet is table salt which is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Other sources of sodium include packaged potato chips, pickled food, cured meat, salami, and various fermented sauces like soya sauce.

6. Avoid Simple Carbohydrates: Simple carbohydrates are simple sugars which easily get digested in the body. Therefore, you may start feeling hungry soon. This can lead to over eating. Processed and refined foods are high in simple carbohydrates. These foods include white bread, potato chips, etc.

7. Regular Exercise: Regular exercise helps in burning fat from your body. Make it a routine to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. It will also help you in maintaining your hormone levels, avoiding sugar cravings and keeping yourself fit.

Incorporate these tips in your daily routine to lose weight naturally.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Your Brain Knows the Difference Between Real Sugar & Sugar Free Food

In today’s lifestyle, it has become a fad to substitute regular food with zero or low-caloric food products just to save a few calories. The most common is the use of sugar-free or artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. It seems logical to replace a sugar-loaded or based food item with a low calorie version of it, and which should automatically lead to weight loss. But according to many researchers, it’s been shown that such sugar-free foods are actually making you fat as compared to real sugar. Let’s see how artificial sweeteners make you fat.

Sugar and sweeteners don’t chemically resemble each other; they belong to different classes of substances. Sugars are simple carbohydrates or glucose and are easily metabolized to energy. But sweeteners are prepared by synthetic procedure and act as a food additive for the sweetening effect. They are calorie-free or low-calorie but are up to 450 times sweeter than real sugar because they are made up of sweet-tasting compounds.

When sugar is metabolized by the body cells, levels of dopamine hormone (a neuro-transmitter) rise, which leads to the feeling of satisfaction and satiety value. It sends a signal to the brain that the body’s energy needs are met. But when artificial sweetener is consumed, the brain keeps on waiting for the calories to come; it causes a drop in blood sugar which triggers hunger and cravings for more food. People are not metabolically satisfied after consuming them. Artificial sweeteners are also know to rapidly stimulate the release of insulin and Leptin hormones that are involved with satiety and fat storage, and may therefore lead to weight gain.

So, next time think twice before reaching for your artificial sweetener. Instead eat the real thing but keep a check on the quantity. Instead of having two teaspoons of sugar in your tea, try one. Or you can switch to more natural sources like fruits to satisfy your sugar cravings without compromising on your health.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Healthy Late Night Snacking

Do you feel hungrier in night as compared to the day? Did you know that overeating at night can disrupt your sleep, leading to imbalances of hunger and satiety hormones? But choosing right and healthy snack foods can protect you from several adverse effects. Here are some healthy snack options you can opt in night whenever you feel hungry -

Handful of Nuts: Whenever you feel hungry in night you can opt for handful of nuts of your choice. Nuts are full of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) which are considered to be good fat, fiber, vitamin and minerals. They will provide you right nutrition and also help you in keeping full for longer. Avoid adding salt or sugar to nuts; you can enjoy nuts with their natural flavor. In fact, 14 raw almonds contain approx 98 kcal whereas 10 raw cashew nuts contain approx 98 kcal. So, it’s not about high content of nuts it about how much you consume.

Salad: A salad made of seasonal fruits and vegetables is one of the best night time snacking foods. You can add lettuce, celery, carrots and seasonal fruits to make the salad with a lemon dressing. You can also add almonds to your salad and make it more nutritious.

Popcorn: Many people find it comfortable to eat potato chips in night but instead of that try to opt for stove-top popcorn. 1 cup of air-popped popcorn without any fat contains approximately 31 kcal calories. Once popped, sprinkle any of your favorite low-calorie toppings like a dash of chili pepper flakes or dried spices adds lots of flavor without extra calories.

Fruits: Fruits are loaded with benefits of antioxidants and fiber. Whenever you feel hungry in night just go and grab a fruit from your refrigerator. Fruits do not add up to too many calories but keep you full for longer. You can go for a cup of mixed seasonal fruits.

Jasmine Tea: Jasmine tea is believed to have a tranquilizing effect on body as it calms your nerves which in turn promote sound sleep. A 2005 study conducted by Kyoto University found that the smell of jasmine reduced study participant’s heart rates and produced “calm and vigorous mood states”. After further experimentation, the researchers attributed this effect to one of the aromatic components of jasmine: (R)-(-)-linalool.

Water: According to experts, the human brain sometimes misinterprets signals of thirst as a sign of hunger, so one ends up eating extra calories instead of drinking zero calorie water. So the next time you feel those late night hunger pangs grab a glass of water instead of something to munch on.

Late night snacking can be a result of erratic sleep pattern. Try to have a sound sleep of at least 8 hours to avoid such cravings.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Healthy Snacks to Beat Hunger Pangs

When you’re trying to eat healthy, one of the biggest challenges is finding something healthy to eat, when you get hungry at odd times, like between meals. To help you stay healthy, here are 5 foods, that are commonly available and are good for your health -

Water: Our bodies are complex systems that send us signals when they are tired, hungry or energized. Sometimes we read their signals incorrectly. For example, sometimes when our body needs water, we think it needs food, which leads to weight gain and more. So, the next time hunger pangs strike at an odd time, drink a glass of water, and wait for 10 minutes. If it really needs food, then you will still be hungry.

Black / Green Tea: Instead of that cold coffee, why not have a cup of nutrition loaded tea – which can be either green or black. Avoid adding milk or sugar in your tea, for maximum benefit.

Almonds: They are easy, high in nutrition snack. Almonds contain fiber, healthy fats and protein, so they keep you satisfied for longer. Keep them around, and anytime you’re hungry at an odd time, have a handful of almonds.

Fruits: Fruits have healthy carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins. So pick any fruit. Whatever is in season or is easily available. A banana, mango, apple, guava. You name the fruit, and it’s much healthier than any junk food.

Roasted Channa: High in protein, fiber and low in fat, roasted Channa is a great anytime snack.

Start eating these snacks and get healthy.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Foods that make you happy

You eat for healthy body, healthy eyes, healthy hair, you eat foods that boost your immune system and many other foods to keep your body healthy and fit. But have you ever ate the foods that boost your mood and keep your stress level low and make you happy.

Here we tell you the list of foods that makes you happy and keep your stress level low and lift your mood.

Chocolate: The darker the chocolate you eat, the better. Not only is it delish, dark chocolate is high in magnesium, a mineral that calms your muscles and reduces anxiety. It also contains tryptophan, which helps reduce symptoms of depression but don’t eat too much, though.

Spinach: This leafy green is stocked with folic acid, a B vitamin that has been found to boost your mood. It’s also an antioxidant that works to protect your brain cells from free radicals, which can lead to low energy and mood swings. The recommended dietary allowance of folate is 400 micrograms daily, so add other folate-rich foods like asparagus, broccoli, and beans to your diet too.

Salmon: Here we see the recurrence of Omega-3 fatty acids and just how much good they can do for our overall health. This time, we see that regular consumption of salmon, about 2-3 times a week, can help to make us feel happier and of course maintain good health.

Sunflower seeds : Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and packed with essential nutrients that have been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression and help give you a good night’s sleep.

Whole Grain Pasta or Bread: We look to foods rich in carbohydrates as a sort of “comfort food”, but in this case they are good for us, too. If you switch out the refined and white pasta and breads with whole grain versions, you will not only be happier but you will also be doing yourself a great favor for your overall health.

Milk: Those foods that are rich in calcium will naturally help to boost our spirits. Those that suffer from depression are told to take a calcium and Vitamin D supplement, and the good news is that 1-2 glasses of milk a day can be a natural mood booster that can help a person to feel happier and more productive.

Bananas: Bananas contain tryptophan – a clever ingredient that the body uses to make the happiness hormone serotonin. They’re also packed full of potassium which is lost when we get stressed and if that wasn’t enough, they contain Vitamin B6 which helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Green vegetables: Leafy green vegetables are natural anti-depressants – they’re an excellent source of folic acid which is particularly good for expectant mothers as a lack of it can cause depression.

Water: Drinking water is essential to keep the body in tip-top working order. Even a minor dip in hydration levels can cause fatigue, headaches and memory loss. A recommended 5-8 glasses of water keeps bodily functions working healthily and helps balance stress and energy levels.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo