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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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Do Vegan Diets help you lose weight?

People think that choosing a vegan lifestyle will help you lose weight, but depending solely on vegan foods and avoiding animal foods like eggs, fish or chicken might lead to some micro nutrients deficiencies. For eg., Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Heme (iron), protein, etc. Also, to lose weight in a healthy way or just to be healthier, only a well balanced diet works.

The following points should be kept in mind before shifting to a vegan diet:

1. Avoid Vegan Junk Foods
Vegan junks like French fries, biscuits, ice-cream crackers, etc are high in fats, calories and sugar. They are all considered empty calorie foods.

2. Avoid processed foods
Processed foods high in phosphorus and sodium increase acidity in blood which indirectly triggers the release of stress hormones. These stress hormones increase insulin secretion in the body. Increased level of sugar in the blood gets converted to fat and this gets stored in the adipose tissues throughout the body.

3. Avoid refined plant foods
Firstly, always choose to consume 100% whole wheat foods or preparations, as they are higher in fiber and contain complex carbohydrates. For eg., if you want to consume rice, then opt for steamed brown rice; and in case of pasta choose whole wheat pasta.

4. Moderate the intake of nuts
Though nuts are considered high in protein and are a source of good fats, they are high in calories too. A handful of nuts works as an ideal mid-meal snack or pre workout snack. Even peanut butter or almond butter with fruits of whole wheat bread makes a great snack. But, always make sure you maintain good portion control when eating nuts, to control calorie intake.

5. Eating-out
Ordering a vegan meal in restaurants doesn’t always mean that it will be healthy. Restaurant foods are overloaded with salt, sugar and oil. If you’re trying to lose weight, be diligent about ordering healthy, oil-free fare such as steamed vegetables and rice or a salad with fresh lemon juice (instead of dressing).

6. Check your portion size
Controlling your meal portion size is key to weight control. Always be a smart selector while filling up your plate. Eat in small plates, chew slowly and stop eating once you feel full. Fill your plate with healthy options and select from the five essential food group. For e.g., make sure half the plate is filled with fresh fruits and veggies. If you feel like eating some rice, stick to half a cup instead of one cup.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Is Saturated Fat the Reason to Your Stomach Flab?

Have you ever thought that how and why diets high in saturated fats are dangerous to your health?

A recent research from Uppsala University shows that saturated fat builds more fat and less muscle than poly-unsaturated fat. Loss of muscle from your body means higher chances of injuries and diseases.

When we indulge in a high-fat diet it influences not only the cholesterol levels in the blood and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, but it also determines the way the body stores fat.

When you get calories from polyunsaturated fats (like salmon, olives, olive oil, nuts, etc.), you gain muscle weight, but foods with saturated fats (like butter, hydrogenated fats, stearic oil, etc.) will make you gain fat mass. Saturated fat in the diet causes a greater increase in the amount of fat in the liver and abdomen region which makes you obese.

When excessive unhealthy fats are consumed, they start getting deposited or stored in the arteries, which leads to narrowing of the blood vessels and an increase in the risk of heart diseases. Belly fat is closely linked to high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and metabolic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes, especially Type-2 diabetes. It causes disturbance in body metabolism. It is closely associated with increase in the levels of plasma cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol and significantly lowers the “good” cholesterol level, as storing fat around the organs is associated with increased risk of such conditions. Studies have shown that trans-fats and saturated fats spark chronic inflammation in the body and cause damage to the lining of the blood vessels. And if you cutback on such fats from your diet, then you might be able to prevent metabolic diseases. Replace bad saturated fats with unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs and PUFAs).

A high consumption of saturated fats in the diet seems to change the characteristics of certain genes in the body. These changed characteristics increase the fat storage in the abdomen and liver. When we consume polyunsaturated fats, the genes work the other way round in the visceral region (fat deposition around the vital organs) and protect the vital organs from shock and damage and also improve the sugar metabolism in the body.

Make sure you get your daily dose of healthy unsaturated fats through nuts, fish, avocadoes, etc. Choose peanut butter or almond butter over normal butter. Choose fish over beef and pork.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

5 best foods for the winters and their benefits

Winters are the time when people are more prone to bacterial and viral infection, with many people suffering from the common cold, cough, influenza and other such diseases. These diseases have more to do with poor immunity that anything else. Thus, there is a need to eat foods that help build immunity during the winters to prevent these ailments.

So here are the top 5 foods to boost immunity and beat the ailments during the chilly season.

1. Garlic

Garlic contains properties which help you fight the flu and many other such diseases. It contains natural antibiotics and boosts your immunity. Garlic contains a chemical named is allice which increases the production of infection fighting white blood cells. In fact garlic is also a cancer fighter and is even known to control diabetes and heart ailments.

2. Ginger

Ginger has powerful antibacterial properties. It is known to help control cough and cold symptoms. Ginger in warm water or hot tea is a great immunity booster during the chill of the winters.

3. Citrus

Citrus fruits include lemon, orange, grapefruit, etc. These fruits are rich in vitamin C and are high in anti oxidants and do wonder for the body’s immunity. Citrus foods are also rich in the flavonoids i.e.hesperidin, which boost “good “cholesterol i.e. HDL in the body and lower the “bad” cholesterol i.e. LDL and triglycerides.

4. Nuts

Nuts are a rich source of antioxidants and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Nuts are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which acts as moisturizers. They keep your skin healthy in the dry winters. Antioxidants attack harmful free radicals in the body, saving you from heart ailments and keeping you warm.

5. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are a good source of minerals and vitamins such vitamin C, K and E. Vitamins boost your immunity and minerals play a role in balancing the electrolyte levels in the body.

Consume these foods generously during the winters to keep yourself healthy and away from common winter ailments. In fact, these foods contain essential nutrients and disease fighting properties and should be a permanent part of your diet. And not just during the winters.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

How to Maintain Your Weight While Travelling?

There are thousands of reasons which make it hard to maintain weight while travelling. It is even difficult for a person who is disciplined about his/her eating and fitness habits. Your schedule gets disrupted and you are surrounded by a variety of unhealthy foods and beverages. But here’s the thing; if can you learn to avoid all the unhealthy food while travelling- not only will travelling be more fun, but you will actually return from your next trip leaner and healthier than when you left.
The Airport / Station / Rest Stop makes you gain weight.
Today, travelling means waiting. And for most people, waiting means eating. When you are in proximity to food courts, bars and cafes, and with the body’s stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) firing up while travelling, it isn’t hard to give in to unhealthy food cravings.
As a result, a couple of hours at the airport/station/stop can easily turn into a couple of thousand calories added to your diet. Worst of all, those high -sugar, high- carbohydrate foods are the least satisfying when it comes to reducing your hunger-and spike your levels of insulin, a hormone that stimulates fat storage.
SOLVE THE PROBLEM:-Pack more food than your clothes. These days the food you put in your carry bag is as vital as the clothes in your suitcase. So pack travel friendly and healthy foods.
So here are some tips to eat while travelling:-
1) Carry a sturdy fruit such as an orange, apple, cherries, pears, grapes, etc. Avoid bananas and avocados as they tend to get mushy if kept in a bag for too long.
2) Make a trail mix by combining your favourite dry fruits, nuts and seeds.
3) Popcorns are always fun to snack on.
4) Low sugar Granola bars, crackers and sliced veggies are always great to have.
5) Roasted chickpeas are also a good option.
Airplanes dehydrate you
The air inside an airplane is drier than normal air (with a relative humidity less than 10 percent, the cabin is twice as dry as the Sahara Desert.) But most travellers don’t realize that breathing in dry air can dehydrate you. Dehydration due to airline air is a major cause of fatigue and fatigue gives you reason to eat. Also, when we are dehydrated and actually need water, our brain might think we are hungry and make us overeat.
SOLVE THE PROBLEM:- Drink 8 ounce of water before your flight. More important ,bring one 16 ounce of bottle of water for every 2 hours you will be in the air and down it all before you land.
As for airline or train food, follow this process whenever possible:
Avoid all sugary foods. Ask for nuts and fruits instead of chips and cookies, and 100% fruit juice or 1 percent milk as beverages other than water.
Take out time to exercise
Back home, fitting in your workout is simple-it becomes part of your daily routine but things are less predictable while travelling, and missing a workout can make your belt feel tighter. According to studies, on average, men needed to exercise at least 200 minutes a week just to maintain their weight.

SOLVE THE PROBLEM:-1) Schedule your workout times in advance. That way, the time slot will already be filled when you are invited to an impromptu dinner. Just politely decline, guilt free, citing a prior engagement.
2) Hire a personal trainer at the gym or find a running buddy. By hiring a trainer or running with someone else, not only will you be less likely to blow off the workout or run, but chances are you will learn new techniques or exercises.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin which your body stores and uses as needed. But not adding enough healthy fats to your diet can interfere with the digestion of fat soluble vitamins, resulting in deficiencies.

Good sources of vitamin E are nuts, eggs, green leafy vegetables and whole cereals. Vitamin E has many more health benefits but people should try to avoid consuming supplements, and get Vitamin E from natural sources. Supplements are required only when the body is really deficient in

levels of vitamin E. Let’s talk about the importance of vitamin E in our body.

1.Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant which protects the body from free radical damage. It helps to fight various infections and lifestyle diseases. Due to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E helps to reduce spots, stretch marks and reduces acne.

2.Vitamin E also helps to regulate and increase levels of vitamin A in the body. It also acts as an immune booster due to its antioxidant properties, which is why doctors occasionally recommended Vitamin E to cataract patients.

3.Vitamin E is also used for treating diabetes and its complications. It is used for preventing cancer, particularly lung and oral cancer in smokers; colorectal cancer and polyps, and gastric, prostate, and pancreatic cancer

4.Vitamin E also prevents hair loss. It stabilizes cell membranes in hair follicles, contributing to hair growth. Because free radicals sometimes damage hair cells, consumption of vitamin E rich foods is important to control this damage.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Nuts – The Secret Weight Loss Weapon

Nuts are one of the foods that provide you a variety of essential nutrients and healthy fats. It keeps you fuller for longer and is a powerful weight loss food.

Nuts are high in calories, but the healthy fats help curb your appetite as they keep you fuller for longer. This means that you have to moderate consumption of nuts. Having a handful of nuts when you feel hungry can help you control cravings for unhealthy snacks.

Nuts are a powerhouse of good nutrients, packed with protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper, and antioxidants. Although they are high in fat, it’s unsaturated heart-healthy fats.
Nuts have less cholesterol-raising saturated fat. On average, 62 percent of the fat in nuts is monounsaturated fat, which supports healthy levels of protective HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and does not raise blood levels of harmful LDL cholesterol. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids that lower triglycerides and blood pressure. Walnuts are especially rich sources of alpha-linolenic acid, some of which is converted to heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids.

Most nuts, and especially almonds, are good sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant. Nuts contain other nutrients like folic acid, selenium, magnesium and several phyto-chemicals. Certain compounds in nuts have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or anticancer properties.
Nuts also contain dietary fiber that reduces cholesterol and improves blood sugar and weight control.

How do nuts help you lose weight? Firstly, nuts are high in healthy fats. These fats help control your appetite and cravings, which makes them the ideal mid meal snack. Secondly, nuts are high in proteins, which help build muscle. Higher muscle mass means greater calorie loss during rest and a higher metabolic rate. Thirdly, nuts provide a variety of other essential nutrients that improve our overall health. A healthy body results in higher fat burning capabilities and a control on unnecessary cravings.

1 handful of almonds (30 gm) provides 172.5 calories.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

4 Foods to Fight Belly Fat

Most people are not overweight but have a slight belly. While some work hard to get rid of it the others get comfortable with it and accept it as a part of their appearance. Before you get too comfortable you should know belly fat is the worst kind of fat and it puts you at increased risk for many health problems – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

There are easy ways to get rid of your belly fat. One of which is eating the right food. Here are 4 simple foods to fight your belly fat -

Yogurt: Latest research shows that yogurt can even help you lose weight. The calcium in yogurt not only helps to make your bone stronger, a study at University of Tennessee found that participants who consumed 3 daily servings of fat free yogurt on a 12 week basis gained less fat around their mid-section than those who didn’t consumed dairy products containing less calcium. The mineral appears to help curb production of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to the accumulation of abdominal fat.

Cheese: Its a good source of calcium, protein, phosphorus and fat. Having a moderate amount of cheese will not add up to your calories as it only takes a little cheese to make you feel full. A 30-gram serving of Cheddar cheese contains approx 7 grams of protein and 200 milligrams of calcium. Cheese not only keeps you full for longer but also supplies your body with essential nutrients.

Nuts: They are little powerhouse of nutrition and provide a good variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to the diet. Nuts contain high amount of monounsaturated fatty acids that are considered to be good fat for the body and helps in managing the level of cholesterol and even help in fighting the bad fat in your body. Add nuts to your daily diet for better health & weight loss.

Fish: Eat fish to fight belly fat. Fish contain a fatty acid known as omega-3 that may also help reduce fat storage by lowering cortisol levels. Fish is also good for building muscles – and the more muscles you have, the more calories you burn.

Besides food one must exercise to fight belly fat. Doing at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week can help trim the waist line and also slow down the accumulation of fat around the waistline. Get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and reduce stress to naturally manage your healthy and keep belly fat under check.

— 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

Which is The Healthiest Nut

It might seem strange that how can a food item rich in fats be considered good for health. The fact is that studies and clinical trials suggest that consuming about 30-50 gms (a small handful) of nuts per day provides protection against heart disease & diabetes and may reduce the risk of obesity.

Nuts are a good source of protein and healthy fats.

They also wonder which nut is the best to have? Let’s compare the nutrition for each type of nut and tell you which one is the healthiest, a good source of dietary fiber & provide a wide range of essential nutrients including B vitamins, Vitamin E, iron, zinc, potassium and antioxidants.

Almonds

This delicately flavored nut is available throughout the year. Almonds have been an important part of our daily diet in most of Indian households especially as a growing child as it is believed to improve brain health. Studies support the fact too. Almonds contain two vital brain nutrients, riboflavin and L-carnitine which have been shown to increase brain activity and reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Almonds are nutritive for the overall health and functioning of our nervous system. Monounsaturated fats, potassium, protein and fiber present in almonds all make a perfect combination to ensure heart health. It helps in increasing the good cholesterol (HDL). Eating about 15-20 almonds on daily basis is an easy way to get a dose of many vital nutrients. A small handful of almonds (about 23 kernels) provide 163 Kcals, 14g fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 3.5g fiber & 6g protein.

Walnuts

These are packed with omega-3-fatty acids. Studies indicate that omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory and help people with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies also suggest that eating about 28 walnut halves provide daily dose of antioxidants and phytosterols which can help reduce risk of breast cancer. They provide protection against heart diseases and help in maintain blood vessel health. Eating walnuts have also been found to be helpful in dealing stress. A small handful of walnuts (about 28gms) provide 175Kcals, 17g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 1.9g fiber & 7g protein.

Pistachios

Pistachios are a rich source of Vitamin B6, copper and manganese which are important for a healthy body. They are one of the best sources of Vitamin E, important to fight free radicals and for good skin health. They are the only nut with substantial amounts of two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin which are helpful in reducing risk of age related blindness disorder in old people. Pistachios help in reducing Blood LDL cholesterol levels and hence support healthy heart health. A small handful of pistachios (about 28gms) provide 159Kcals, 13g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 2.9g fiber & 6g protein.

Peanuts

They are a good source of protein which makes them an important part of vegetarian and bodybuilding diets. Peanuts have higher concentration of anti-oxidants than many fruits and roasting increases its anti-oxidant content by 22%. Peanuts are also a good source of folate and iron, which is important for expecting women. Studies show that adding even small amounts of peanut products can LDL cholesterol by 14%. A small handful of dry roasted peanuts (about 28gms) provide 166Kcals, 14g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 2.3g fiber & 7g protein.

Cashews

75% of fat in cashews contains unsaturated fatty acids and most of it comprises of oleic acid, which is known to boost cardiovascular health. Overall cashews contain more than 80 nutrients comprising of essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. It is free from cholesterol. Magnesium found in cashew nuts can help promote healthy bone structure. However one should avoid salted and roasted forms as these can elevate blood pressure due to high sodium content. A small handful of cashews (about 28gms) provide 157Kcals, 12g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 3mg sodium, 0.9g fiber & 5g protein.

Tips for including more nuts in your day:

Sprinkle chopped nuts into your stir fry.

Sprinkle chopped nuts into your cereal.

Enjoy a slice of multi-grain bread with a thin spread of peanut butter as a snack.

Have a mix of raw nuts as a snack instead of other unhealthy options like chips or chocolates.

Add some nuts to a salad.

Most importantly, do not go overboard with the quantity. Stick to an ounce or about 30gms per day and reap the benefits of good health.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo