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As of late, there has been much mention about the glycemic index. Why is it that people are resorting to it as a means of weight loss and overall healthy eating choices?

The Glycemic Index, What You Should Know About It

The Glycemic Index, What You Should Know About ItAs of late, there has been much mention about the glycemic index. People everywhere talk about it and food advertisements use it liberally to promote certain products. But just what is this glycemic index and what does it mean for you? Why is it that people are resorting to it as a means of weight loss and overall healthy eating choices? What is the reason that the G.I. is becoming the staple food guide of the free world?The glycemic index is a means of measuring the effects of different foods on your blood sugar levels, in other words, how rapidly carbohydrates (sugars) are absorbed. Foods with a high G.I. release quickly into your blood causing a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels. Foods with a low G.I. release slowly into your blood helping to keep your blood sugar levels more stable and steady. When a high G.I. food is eaten and blood sugar levels rise rapidly, there is a high response of insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels). The insulin works quickly to deposit this excess blood sugar into muscle cells in the form of glycogen (stored energy), and when the glycogen stores are full, the rest is stored in the fat cells as, yes, you guessed it, fat! Because of the over-response of insulin caused by the over-response of blood sugar, the blood sugar is quickly depleted to lower than normal levels, causing that burst of energy you felt to crash quickly.Low G.I. foods which release at a slower rate do not cause such an insulin response. This allows for a blood sugar level stabilization over a longer period of time because a slow release of blood sugar means a slow release of insulin meaning that it can regulate blood sugar levels more accurately. And as you may have guessed, there is much less of a deposit to the fat cells also! This is why when you eat a low G.I. food your energy levels stay up longer and you dont feel hungry too soon after eating like you do with high G.I. foods. The glycemic index is measured by assessing how fast of a release of sugar different foods have into the blood verses the rate of pure glucose (blood sugar itself). A score of 100 has been assigned to the rate of release of glucose. If a food has a release or index of 70 or higher, that means it has a rapid release and is a high G.I. food and should be avoided. If a food has an index of 56 to 69 it has a somewhat rapid release but not an extreme one and is considered a medium G.I. food and should be limited. Any food with an index of 55 or less has a slow release and is considered a low G.I. food and is good to consume any time.Now combining high G.I. foods with low ones in an overall meal will affect the G.I. of the whole meal. This is known as the glycemic value. If you had a potato with a G.I. of say 90 and a chicken breast with a G.I. of 0, the glycemic value of the meal would be 45, in the low G.I. range. So when you are trying to stay on the low side of the G.I. which you should be, you do not have to completely eliminate all high G.I. foods as long as you only consume them in combination with low ones to lower the glycemic load of the meal as a whole. Examples of high G.I. foods are any white flour bread, cakes of muffins, white potatoes, ripe bananas and honey.Some medium G.I. foods are red potatoes, jellies and jams, bran muffins, whole wheat bread and most tropical fruits.Some low G.I. foods are most vegetables, most northern fruits, yams and sweet potatoes, grain cereals, any meats and dairy products, popcorn and most nuts. Now keep in mind that calories still do count and that means that just because you are eating foods with a low G.I. doesnt mean that you can eat as much as you want. Staying with mostly low G.I. foods will help keep blood sugar levels stable and will help control your appetite but in the end you still need to watch your overall calorie count to lose or maintain weight and not gain weight.

Do We Know What to Eat and What Not to Eat?

Do We Know What to Eat and What Not to Eat?

Nutrition affects not only the condition of our bodies, but also, and perhaps more importantly, our minds. The food we eat keeps our bodies in good shape and working efficiently. It provides energy, strengthens our immune system and improves our minds. Although many people shun fat and meat, it has been established that they are of great importance to the brain; and this fact must be carefully considered. There are still many misconceptions about nutrition, e.g., vitamins help to lose weight; enzymes burn fat; weight gain is due to fatty foods, so diet foods are the solution; obesity is connected only to food, and so on. Instead of relying on oversimplified generalizations, it is important to devise a moderate diet from all food groups, including proteins and animal products, because they remove toxins from the intestines and supply the body with natural vitamins and minerals. It is good to eat in small amounts, but often - perhaps four to five times a day - since this way of eating reduces the chance of plaque production in the blood and prevents it from storing it in the internal organs and arteries. It is established that most physical ailments, especially the leading cause of death - the heart attack - are caused by improper nutrition. One of the first dietitians, William Banting, wrote as long ago as the mid-19th century, among all maladies which concern the human race, I know none nor can I imagine anything worse than obesity. According to Dutch medical specialists, people who gain a significant amount of weight after the age of 35-40, shorten their lives by approximately seven years. Also, if a 40-year old woman smokes and is overweight, she will live, on average, 13.3 years less than a non-smoking woman of standard weight. When we speak of proper nutrition, it is imperative that we associate it with long life. Quality of life in old age is not about turning back the clock to maintain an artificial extension or replay of youth, but rather, to increase longevity and make life healthier, happier and more fulfilling within the limitations of age. It is no coincidence that the Japanese boast the best nutrition among their population, and their average lifespan is 82.5 years for women and 76.2 years for men. Suitable combinations of carbohydrates, proteins and fat directly affect brain activity, and consequently, influence our intellectual abilities. Carbohydrates feed the brain, proteins slow down the carbohydrate absorption rate, and fat aids in the production of the hormones that make us happy and also assists in balancing the nutritive chemicals in the blood stream. In addition to the main food categories, trace amounts of specific elements and minerals can have a profound influence on health. For example, the selenium contained in dairy products alleviates stress and is a very good defense against aging. Is it possible to become happier through proper nutrition? Most definitely the answer is Yes! The human brain is composed of and maintained by a certain number of building blocks, supplied through nutrition. The brain requires fat, amino acids and proteins to sustain its solid structure. When these substances are missing or insufficient, the brain loses functional efficiency, which in turn causes accelerated aging. Do not avoid fat altogether for fear it may clog arteries. On the contrary, certain fats, such as those found in olive or sunflower oil, cod-liver oil, almonds, peanuts and walnuts are valuable and essential. It is these fats that structure the nerve cells in the brain. The limiting of fat should be closely monitored, so that it does not damage brain function. Proteins are also of significant importance. Enzymes, which allow cells to receive messages, and some neuro-meridians, are actually proteins in different proportions composed of amino acids in the food. The conclusion is that the brain needs proteins to stimulate proper activity. Meat, eggs and dairy products supply the required animal proteins to the human body. It has been proven that a lack of Vitamin B-9 is the chief contributor to memory loss during the aging process, and that the liver supports and strengthens the memory. Vitamin B-9 is contained in whole grains, egg yolks, beans, walnuts and spinach. If we add Vitamins B-6 and B-12, contained in fish and meat, we create a healthy blend that guarantees us optimum memory strength. The ancient Roman physician Galen recommended walnuts for stimulating brain activity. His suggestion was based on the ancient theory that body organs should be treated with foods that resemble them, and the walnut, with its convoluted surface, does indeed resemble the folds of the human brain. Although that superficial theory is obviously superceded by the biochemistry of metabolism, modern medicine confirms that walnuts stimulate intellectual ability, help prevent tumors and heart disease, and lower bad cholesterol. Thats why it is important to consume no less than one ounce of walnuts per day, at least three times a week. Vitamin E, which is just one valuable constituent of olives, walnuts as well as other foods, protects the biological membranes from aging. Broccoli, peppers, cabbage, lemons, oranges and other products containing Vitamin C have a direct influence on the blood circulation in the brain. And in order to prevent the reduction of red blood cells, which supply oxygen to the brain, we need to include iron-rich foods in our diet. Dr. Jill Haltermans research at the University of Rochester demonstrated that students with low amounts of iron in their blood scored lower on tests. Additional research showed lower IQ scores among young, vegetarian girls, in contrast with girls of the same age who enjoyed a balanced diet. The bread/pasta food group, particularly whole-grain and multi-grain, is perfect fuel for the brain, and the lack of rice, lentil and glucose causes hypoglycemia and dulls brain function. Carbohydrates are the best energy source for our body, since they digest slowly, are absorbed into our system in small amounts, and feed the brain longer. Weve all been taught since grade school that water is of extreme importance to the human body; we may be able to live without food for two to three weeks, but no more than three days without water. Indeed, water represents 70 percent of a humans body mass. Every one of us loses around half a gallon of water daily, an amount that needs to be replenished. Some of the water we receive through the food we eat, but the majority simply has to be drunk. If this does not happen, the result is dehydration and cellulite, including aging. Besides pure, uncontaminated water, fruit juices and teas are not only useful, but necessary as well. According to Russian scientist Vladimir Volkov, the decrease of water in the body blocks the bio-filters and causes different pathologies and subsequently aging. We cannot disagree with the fact that rational and proper nutrition will improve our health, make us more joyful, smarter and prettier, extend our lifespan, and ultimately, stimulate our inner being and help us achieve absolute happiness.

Vitamins and Relief Vitamin K for Leg Cramps

Vitamins and Relief Vitamin K for Leg Cramps

Most often, the effects of vitamins and vitamin deficiencies are spread over a period of time. If your body isnt getting sufficient amounts of a particular vitamin, it may take weeks, months or even years of low levels before the effects are evident. And when you start a vitamin regimen, it may take a significant period of time for your body to begin exhibiting the effects of having sufficient levels.Vitamin K otherwise known as potassium is commonly associated with leg cramps. If a Vitamin K deficiency is the cause of your leg cramps, its likely that adding the vitamin to your daily routine can give you ease in a relatively short period of time. One of the bigger (but less commonly known) reasons for Vitamin K in the human body has to do with blood clotting. This vitamin allows blood to coagulate so that it forms clots naturally. This makes it important for anyone taking medications to thin the blood to carefully monitor the amount of Vitamin K they add to their body. If youre taking an anti-coagulant drug, talk to your doctor before adding any vitamin to your daily routine or changing your diet especially if those changes involve Vitamin K supplements or foods rich in Vitamin K.One of the biggest myths about Vitamin K is that bananas are rich in Vitamin K and can be used instead of Vitamin K supplements. In fact, bananas are not a particularly good source of Vitamin K. For example, a half-cup of broccoli contains 200 times the amount of Vitamin K in a banana. Green vegetables are among the highest in Vitamin K content, with kale, turnip greens, broccoli and spinach heading the list. Cabbage, green beans and parsley are also included on the list of foods that are high in Vitamin K. While the green foods are a good source of Vitamin K, theyre not the only source. Youll also find that strawberries are a moderately high source of Vitamin K, as are dill pickles. Not all the Vitamin K needed by the body is consumed. In fact, this is one of the few vitamins that the body actually helps manufacture. Babies dont have much Vitamin K present in their bodies when theyre first born, therefore an infants blood may not clot as it should. To combat that, many hospitals give a shot of Vitamin K to babies soon after birth to start the bodys natural processing of this important vitamin.

Essential Nutrition For Every Woman

Essential Nutrition For Every Woman

As a woman, your body is very complex. Throughout every phase of your life you will require extra care and nutritional support. Today's scientific advances support a number of natural choices for women, like soy. Still, the fact remains that calcium, folic acid and iron continue to be the most important nutrients that can impact a woman's total health. All women should take a daily multiple vitamins with these essential nutrients.Calcium is essential for bone health.As a woman you have a much greater risk of developing osteoporosis because you have less bone tissue and lose bone more rapidly then men do. Be sure to consume adequate calcium throughout life, as this may reduce your risk of osteoporosis later in life. Calcium is essential to the health of bones, teeth and skin, yet few adults get enough of it in their diets. Make sure you find a high quality calcium supplement to ensure you receive a health-enhancing daily allowance.Folic acid impacts women in many ways.It plays an important role during rapid fetal growth and development. In fact, adequate intake of folic acid as part of a healthy diet before and in early pregnancy may reduce the risk of having a baby with a birth defect of the brain or spinal cord. All women of childbearing age are recommended to consume 400 mcg of folic acid everyday starting at least one month before conception into the early weeks of pregnancy.Folic acid also plays a role in the maintenance of normal homocysteine levels; elevated levels of homocysteine are believed to be a risk factor of heart health.IronIron is a vital nutrient that plays an essential role in forming healthy red blood cells and transporting oxygen. It's estimated that as many as 62% of women over the age of 20 are not meeting the RDA for iron. Women also tend to be low in iron because they tend to eat foods low in iron and lose iron through menstruation.Drinking a glass of orange juice with your cereal can boost iron absorption by the body. Vitamin C helps the body metabolize the iron. A high quality Vitamin C supplement rich in antioxidants to help fight the harmful effects of free radicals is a wonderful supplement not only to assist iron absorption, but also to combat ageing.Vitamin C is coveted for its many benefits, including a contribution to healthy bones, teeth, blood vessels and the production of collagen.In addition to taking a daily multiple vitamin, routine exams are key to prevention and healthy living. You should have a yearly gynecological exam that includes a pelvic exam, breast exam and PAP test. Also, consider performing monthly self-breast exams to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. If you are over 40, you should have a mammogram every year.(c) Kim Beardsmore

Dietary Therapy: High Fiber Diets

Can high-fiber diets really do all they claim to do? Studies have looked at the relationship between high-fiber diets and many diseases, including colon cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes. Proven benefits of a high-fiber diet include prevention and treatment of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. In addition, certain types of fiber help decrease blood cholesterol levels. Dietary fiber comes from the portion of plants that is not digested by enzymes in the intestinal tract. Part of it, however, may be metabolized by bacteria in the lower gut. Different types of plants have varying amounts and kinds of fiber, including pectin, gum, mucilage, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Pectin and gum are water-soluble fibers found inside plant cells. They slow the passage of food through the intestines but do nothing to increase fecal bulk. Beans, oat bran, fruit and vegetables contain soluble fiber. In contrast, fibers in cell walls are water insoluble. These include cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Such fibers increase fecal bulk and speed up the passage of food through the digestive tract. Wheat bran and whole grains contain the most insoluble fiber, but vegetables and beans also are good sources.Sometimes there is confusion as to the difference between crude fiber and dietary fiber. Both are determined by a laboratory analysis, but crude fiber is only one-seventh to one-half of total dietary fiber. Insoluble fiber binds water, making stools softer and bulkier. Therefore, fiber, especially that found in whole grain products, is helpful in the treatment and prevention of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Diverticula are pouches of the intestinal wall that can become inflamed and painful.It is now known that a high-fiber diet gives better results once the inflammation has subsided. Some types of fiber, however, appear to have a greater effect than others. The fiber found in rolled oats is more effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels than the fiber found in wheat. Pectin has a similar effect in that it, too, can lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood. High-fiber diets may be useful for people who wish to lose weight. Fiber itself has no calories, yet provides a full feeling because of its water-absorbing ability. For example, an apple is more filling than a half cup of apple juice that contains about the same calories. Foods high in fiber often require more chewing, so a person is unable to eat a large number of calories in a short amount of time. Dietary fiber is found only in plant foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Meat, milk and eggs do not contain fiber. The form of food may or may not affect its fiber content. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables contain just as much fiber as raw ones. Other types of processing, though, may reduce fiber content. Drying and crushing, for example, destroy the water-holding qualities of fiber. The removal of seeds, peels or hulls also reduces fiber content. Whole tomatoes have more fiber than peeled tomatoes, which have more than tomato juice. Likewise, whole wheat bread contains more fiber than white bread. Fiber supplements are sold in a variety of forms from bran tablets to purified cellulose. Many laxatives sold as stool softeners actually are f "iber supplements" . Fibers role in the diet is still being investigated. It appears that the various types of fiber have different roles in the body. For these reasons, avoid fiber supplements. Instead, eat a variety of fiber-rich foods. This is the best way to receive the maximum benefits from each type of fiber present in foods, and obtain necessary nutrients.

The Truth About Fat In Foods

Fat has had a lot of bad press and for many people, just a mention of the word can evoke misery. You can try to lose it, try to hide it, try to avoid it, but your body still needs it! Did you know that fat helps to insulate our nerve cells, keeps us warm, balances our hormones, keeps skin and arteries supple, lubricates joints and is a component in every cell?The key issue here is recognizing which type of fat your body needs, how much your body requires and which type is your enemy. Armed with the right information, you can focus on getting more of the good fats and less of the bad fats into your daily diet.There are two types of fat to be aware of. Saturated fats - let's call them "the enemy" and unsaturated fats - "the good guys"! It is easy to tell the difference because saturated fats are hard at room temperature. Saturated fats are not essential to your health. They come from animals and are found in meat, eggs and cheese. They are harder to digest and full of cholesterol.Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and have been divided into two groups. Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower oil. Polyunsaturated fats are split into Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids. Monounsaturated fat (Omega 9) although not essential, is not harmful in moderation - a good quality (extra virgin first cold pressed) olive oil is a healthier alternative to the usual vegetable oil. Good sources of Omega 6: safflower oil, sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, walnut oil, pumpkin oil, sesame oil. Good sources of Omega 3 are mackerel, herring, salmon, pilchards, sardines, tuna and flax seed oil. Here are some important facts about fat in our diet.1. Fat is the 'energy reserve' of animals, plants and humans.2. The ideal body-fat ratio should be approximately 19-26% of a woman's body weight, and 12-18% of a man's body weight.3. There are two different types of body fat - brown and yellow. Brown fat is situated inside the body and is 'active', containing mitochondria that produce heat (thermogenesis) and as a result burn energy. Yellow fat is found nearer the surface, is less active and more likely to accumulate. Women tend to have a higher ratio of yellow fat than men.4. Women need higher levels of fat because it is essential for reproduction and so the body stores it 'just in case'.5. An average healthy intake of good fats in the diet should be approximately 30-40 grams a day. The fat content of diets in affluent populations can be nearly four times this amount!6. Most foods containing fat combine saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in varying quantities. For instance, butter's fat content is almost 100%, of which 60% is saturated, 30% monounsaturated and 10% polyunsaturated, compared with sunflower seeds' fat content of 73%, of which just 12% is saturated and 21% monounsaturated and 67% is polyunsaturated.7. Heat, light and oxygen destroy essential fatty acids, which is why it is best to keep oils in dark containers.8. Essential fats must come from the diet because your body cannot produce them. The essential healthy fats are Omega 3 and Omega 6 (known as essential fatty acids).9. Weight for weight, fat provides more than twice the amount of usable energy than carbohydrates or protein (you'll find 9 calories in every gram of fat).10. Fat contributes to the palatability, texture and the smell of many foods, it also slows down the process of digestion providing an extended period of satiation after a meal.When you know the good from the bad, fat is fabulous!

Summary

As of late, there has been much mention about the glycemic index. Why is it that people are resorting to it as a means of weight loss and overall healthy eating choices?