If you’ve ever tried a medijool date then you will know they really are a yummy, sticky sweet treat that is also perfectly healthy as well as delicious. In fact the health benefits of dates really are astounding, and as they are so full of nutrient dense energy I would also class them as the ULTIMATE training food.
I’m talking specifically about the medijool date variety, as these really are the Rolls Royce of the date world both in taste and nutrition. They mostly come dried and taste super sweet, almost caramely in fact, and are the perfect fix when you are craving a something sweet, or are just in dire need of an energy boost.
THE ULTIMATE TRAINING FOOD:
This is why they are a great fitness training food for both before, during AND after exercise, due to the fact they are packed full of low GI sugar that will give you a slow and sustained energy release. This is because they fit the perfect macronutrient requirements of a training food: each date contains 66 calories, 17g carbs, and barely zero protein and fat (making them similar to most energy gels – but more nutritious).
The sugars in dates, although they high, are in the form of glucose, fructose, and sucrose, and are easily broken down and processed by the body, which is exactly what is needed when you need an instant but long lasting energy fix.
A Perfectly Packaged Super Food:
They also come perfectly packaged, are easy to transport and do not spoil easily, meaning you can either eat them straight out of the fridge or wrap them in some tin foil and take them on with you on your run, or to the gym.
And dates aren’t just for those in training, they are good for EVERYBODY – including diabetics, plus they also have a number of other health benefits which is why they are well worth incorporating into your every day diet every.
PERFECT ON A PLANT BASED DIET
A healthy ‘plant based diet’ will require you to make sure you are eating lots of good sources of plant proteins, plus lots of nutrients – especially calcium. Fortunately dates are abundant in all of these, and boast an impressive nutritional profile with high amounts of calcium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also high in soluble and insoluble fiber.
Medijool dates are what I would call ‘nature’s very own candy‘, and if you feel an itch for a sweet treat then dates will certainly scratch it, AND they are guilt free! They come in low on the glycemic index scale at 43-55 for non diabetics and 43-53 for type 2 diabetics (diabetics can eat up to 3 a day if the rest of their food is healthy) – but as with everything they will still need to be eaten in moderation, OR instead of other treats if you don’t want to gain weight.
Medijool dates are good for your heart as their both soluble and insluble fiber content helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides; this in turn lowers your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Taken along with a healthy diet and regular exercise dates may help act as a preventative measure against all of the above.
The high amounts of key nutrients in dates are perfect for strong bones: such as calcium and phosphorus, both of which are needed for bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also needed for the repair, maintenance, and growth of our cells and tissues.
Calcium is crucial to the healthy function of nerves, muscles and heart, and is the NUMBER ONE mineral for helping to prevent osteoporosis. It is worth noting that contrary to popular belief ,there are many plant foods that are higher in calcium than dairy products, and in some cases are also more easily absorbed.
Please check out this list of other ‘High Calcium Plant Foods’and be sure to add them to your diet as much as possible. As you age you need MORE calcium than ever as your bones will be becoming more fragile, and your absorption rate will be lower.
Dates, along with most other plant foods are anti inflammatory, and therefore may help to fight chronic inflammation in the body. This in turn may help to ease pain (especially the pain caused by inflammatory diseases such as autoimmune disease, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease).
Chronic inflammation is something that affects many of us and it can be triggered from many sources, such as sugar, trans fats, alcohol, tobacco, pollution, and toxins in the environment, these toxins can eventually lead to disease and illness. You can help to lower this inflammation by eating anti inflammatory, antioxidant rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, seeds and the omega 3 fats found in fish oils.
Dates are a high antioxidant fruit, and antioxidants are needed in abundance in our diet, especially as we are living in such a toxic world. Antioxidants help slow down the aging process of our bodies, both inside and out, as they neutralise free radicals before they can damage our cells and DNA. This damage, when left out of control, can lead to premature aging and degenerative disease.
Make sure you also eat an antioxidant rich diet and add in these ‘Antioxidant Rich Foods’EVERY DAY to be sure you are keeping yourself healthy and your immune system strong.
Thank you for reading, and if you would like to add any comments to this post then I would love to hear what you have to say. So please feel free to post below.
In the fitness industry there are always many questions about protein, such as which is the best protein to build muscle, what are the cleanest proteins, and understanding the amino acid profiles of different protein sources. Most crucially of all though is how to make sure you are getting all that your body needs, whether you be on a muscle building program or a weight loss diet.
In this post I’m going to break it down for you a bit more and speak without bias about my personal experiences of ONLY eating plant proteins, and consuming a plant based diet for the last 12 months. (I’m no animal rights activist or anything like that – just a regular health freak)
Firstly, you should know that I have always been into fitness – doing a regular mix of running, power walking, weights, and swimming, and before going plant based my normal diet was already what I considered healthy, well at the time anyway. Lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and dairy, plus a shed load of supplements which were all working OK for me, but literally justOK.
I Needed Something More!
But sometimes just OK isn’t enough: I wanted to not catch the bugs and colds I caught every year without fail, and most of all I wanted my insomnia to improve – but as much as I was working out and trying harder and harder with both diet and exercise, things just weren’t moving to that extra level that I wanted. Bear in mind this is MY body i’m talking about, yours may be different and you may experience things differently, but I can only speak from my own experience.
I think I was getting to a stalemate with my routine so decided I needed to shake things up a bit. I have studied in depth plant based nutrition, and some of these studies were from athletes themselves who had found that they were experiencing their best ever endurance and faster times with plant based eating.
Meet the Iron Man Champion
One of these guys I studied that stands out the most to me was Brendan Brazier, a Canadian Iron Man champion who was basically a raw vegan AND one of the fittest men on the planet. Seriously, just click on the link and take a look at the guy for yourself if you don’t believe me. He’s super strong and toned, and he built THAT body on plants!
Reading this guys autobiography blew my mind as these facts were coming straight from this champion horses mouth, so who the hell can argue with that? Definitely NOT those people who think you can only get enough protein by eating meat! The proof was in the pudding with this one, and this, along with my own feeling that I needed to take things a step further for my health, was the catalyst for me to start on my plant based journey.
I’m not going to pull any punches, it was hard at first and I fell off the wagon 3 times before something just ‘clicked’ into place – but after that I just knew it was forever and I haven’t ever looked back. I haven’t gone completely ‘raw‘ like Brendan as I am just not ready for that extreme yet, however I did make the vow to go fully plant based to see how my body reacted.
Learning as You Go
The first few months were a bit turbulent as I learnt what my body needed, how to obtain enough protein, and what the BEST SOURCES were in terms of amino acids and bio availability. But now I think I have it down, and the results have been astounding.
I also need to point out that I am on a healthy plant based diet that contains barley any processed or junk foods, and minimal refined carbohydrates.(OK, sometimes on the odd occasion I may treat myself to a piece of cake or some dark chocolate, but not all the time).
It is still possible to be plant based or vegan and still be very unhealthy, due to eating too much junk food.There’s a bit of a misconception that vegans just eat fruit and vegetables, but there are in fact lots of high sugar and bad fats in many vegan convenience foods, so if you want the results you are looking for on a plant based diet then it needs to be done properly.
THE THINGS I HAVE NOTICED SINCE GOING PLANT BASED
1. MORE ENERGY
This had to be first on the list simply because it’s such a major feature in my life now. I have relentless energy, and don’t really ever feel tired even after a hard workout, which I know is down to my highly alkaline anti inflammatory diet.
The Thing About Inflammation:
Chronic inflammation is now known to be the root cause of almost every known illness and disease. It wreaks havoc in the body, and most of us are suffering from it due to highly acidic diets (ie.diets filled with junk foods, refined sugars and animal products – especially dairy), some of these animal products are worse than others but you get my point.
Some people may rebuke this claim, but all I can say is I unequivocally know 100% that ALL the benefits I had on this list are due to less inflammation in my body. And I never ate junk foods before, so it must have been the animal products that were keeping me feeling under par. There really is no other explanation, and I’ve spent a year of my life testing it for myself.
2. LESS MUSCLE SORENESS AFTER EXERCISE
I really don’t ache so much after a hard workout like I used to, and if I do it is nowhere near as much as before, and my recovery is MUCH quicker. Again, this is down to less inflammation in my body (I can find no other explanation).
3. BETTER DETOXIFICATION
Eating less inflammatory foods has allowed my body to detoxify itself more efficiently – that and my amazing green super food powder that I take every day. Together with an anti inflammatory plant based diet they have worked in harmony, and have boosted my skin, hair, nails and EVEN vision to new levels. Yes, I can honestly ‘see‘ better!
4. BETTER SLEEP
I think this is due to my body being able to detoxify itself more efficiently, due again to having less inflammation to deal with – along with a low GI diet (most important) which is keeping my blood sugar stable, I now sleep more deeply than I did before. All this is obviously good in terms of adequate muscle repair, not to mention energy levels.
5. BRAIN POWER
Yep you guessed it, another one that is yet again down to lower inflammation and better detoxification of the pollution and heavy metals from our environment – all of which affect the brain. I also have a better memory capacity these days because my body is ‘cleaner’, allowing me to think much more clearly.
6. HORMONAL BALANCE
No more PMS for me either, which I can clearly see now was because I was loading my body up with animal hormones. I’m no medical genius but it makes sense that we shouldn’t have another animals hormones in our body throwing our own hormonal system out of whack.
7. ANTI AGING
A low GI plant based diet will slow down the aging process on many different levels, the most prominent being BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL. When we have stable blood sugar we aren’t having the constant insulin spikes and troughs, all of which ACCELERATE the aging process and boost your chances of getting diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, alzheimer’s and many cancers.
Another reason is because the plant based diet, by its very essence, means you will in fact be eating a lot more PLANTS! As in fruits, vegetables and legumes – all of which are bursting with nutrients and antioxidants (which are free radical scavengers). Too many free radicals in the body from junk food, smoking, alcohol, trans fats and environmental pollutants accelerate the aging process.
You can see by my wonderful list of plant based diet side effects why I’m now a lifelong convert. Why would I ever want to go back when every day feels better and better now body is REGENERATING instead of DEGENERATING?
Next Up: Let’s Talk Protein
BEST PROTEINS TO BUILD MUSCLE
There are more plant based proteins than you can probably imagine, but you will need to mix them up a bit for a ‘complete’ amino acid profile. New research suggests that you don’t actually need to have the ‘complete profile’ in one hit. You can actually spread it out across the day, which is much easier, and allows for a more ‘natural’ way of eating without having to worry if you are getting everything you need in one meal.
However, having said that it is actually a good idea to get a complete protein profile in with as many meals as possible, for the simple fact that this will make them lower GI meals. This way of eating will keep you fuller for longer and will serve to help the fat burning process (due to the fact you will be eating less overall as you won’t feel the need to snack so much).
What is A Complete Protein Profile?
To have a ‘complete‘ protein profile means a food or meal has to contain all 9 essential amino acids. On a plant based diet it means you will need to mix legumes such as lentils, beans, soy beans and peas, with grains such as wheat, rice, corn, amaranth, millet and pearl barley.
The Wonders of Quinoa – A Perfect Food!
QUINOA is the only known ‘complete‘ plant protein and should become your best friend on a plant based diet. It also contains omega 3’s and impressive amounts of calcium and iron as an added bonus!
SIDE NOTE – Make Sure You get Your Calcium!
Calcium is also CRUCIAL on a plant based diet, but luckily there are many sources of it and I urge you to check them out before you change your eating habits. Luckily, I have already devised a list of the ‘Highest Plant Sources of Calcium‘ so you don’t need to delve any further.
There are some plants that are much more impressive in amino acids (which are the building blocks of protein) than others and should be added to your diet every day. The rest will just come to you naturally – especially when you are eating a whole food, low GI diet.
Here I will do two lists, one for the best whole food proteins, and one for the best plant based protein powders. If you are in a training program you will need to incorporate some protein powders to be doubly sure you’re getting all you need.
Not everything on this list are necessarily the highest protein plant products per 100 grams, but they will work out to be the highest considering they are going to be the main components that will add bulk to your meals and you will be eating a lot more of them by weight.,
For instance almonds and pistachio nuts are higher in protein than chickpeas per 100 grams, but you wouldn’t really eat that amount of nuts in one sitting because of too much fat and calories etc. However, you could easily eat 100 grams or more of chickpeas as the main component to a meal and get in MORE protein than the nuts. Make sense?
You should however add ALL different protein sources to your diet for the best results as they all have their own unique nutrient profiles. Here are many more that aren’t in this particular article for you to include ‘List of Highest Plant Proteins’.
THE 10 PLANT BASED SUPERSTARS!
Here are some of the best plant proteins that you should add as the bulk ingredient to your meal, and their amounts of protein per 100 Grams
Mix them up! Don’t stick to one – use a couple at a time. Hemp is already considered ‘complete‘, but it’s still good to combine as they ALL have different nutrients. You could pick one that you prefer the taste of, but always mix some hemp with it for omega 3’s. OR you can buy already made up blends that taste much nicer, and often have lots of added nutrients to make them more nutritious.
Points to Remember on Your Plant Based Diet
Always be sure to get an array of amino acids by food combining throughout the day.
Make sure you eat foods every day from the plant based calcium list.
Eat at least 10 PORTIONS of fruits and vegetables a day for antioxidants and fiber.
Eat in moderation, healthy fats, especially avocado, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Have a green super food powder shot every day, such as barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, or better still, buy a couple and mix them up. Alternatively, go for a blend like the super food blend that I take which is one of the most superior I have ever found. Check it out here – ‘Dr. Schulze’s Superfood‘
I hope you can now see from this post that it is possible to build muscle from plants, and once you start doing all of the above you you’ll be well on your way to superior health and a much leaner more defined body. If you have any questions then please post in the comments thread below. I would love to hear your thoughts and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you
This can mean different things to different people as it’s often about perspective, and by this I mean we are all at different stages of our lives, and at different levels of knowledge about food. Living a healthy lifestyle is a journey, you learn as you go, and you will never stop learning.
Some people believe they are living a healthy lifestyle by adding an apple to their lunch or and taking the stairs instead of the escalator every so often; while others go to the extremes of only eating organic, raw foods, drinking lurid green drinks (which I am actually a big fan of, but more about that later), and getting up at 5am to get in that hour long training or yoga session before a days work (which I am not a fan of).
The Road to Ultimate Health is a ‘Journey’
The former of the above isn’t really going to do anything for you in terms of getting ‘healthier‘ (especially if your main diet consists of junk foods, such as refined sugars and trans fats), because in this case, eating the odd piece of fruit isn’t going to cut any mustard. But by the same token you probably aren’t yet in a place on your healthy lifestyle journey where you fancy getting up for a 5am workout.
The reason why I call a healthy lifestyle a ‘journey‘, is because that is how it feels; the body and mind need time to change, adapt and grow. It’s a process and if you were to jump straight in at the deep end, chances are you would fall off the wagon very quickly.
Changing ‘Old’ Belief Systems Can Be Challenging
This is exactly why it’s good to start with small changes, to give your mind a chance to not only form new habits, but change its deeply embedded belief systems and build new neural pathways in your brain.
The changing of old belief systems is the key here, and like with many other new journeys and paths in life this is no different; the mind needs time to adapt and making small changes, and taking things one step at a time is the best and proven way to form new habits.
Where To Start:
In this post I am going to give you some tips on changes you can start making today that will start you off on your amazing journey to health. And you will start to feel good within days, and every day better and better after that.
By the time you’re a year down the road you will feel totally transformed, be bursting with energy and vitality, your skin will be clear, your eyes bright, and most awesome of all you will be helping to protect yourself from ALL the major diseases that affect 4/5 of us in the modern age. I’m talking the BIG FIVE which are diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression (and other mental illnesses), and degenerative diseases.
Below are my top tips for starting your healthy journey. Make 1-3 changes a week and stick to them, don’t try to do too much at once, and give yourself a chance to get used to this different way of living.
Because this is just too much of a vast area to cover in one post, I highly recommend that after you reach the end of this article, you come back and read the highlighted links to some of my other posts as they hold important information and are HIGHLY relevant to a healthy lifestyle. Within this website you will find all the help and information you need to change your life and turn your health around for good and I hope you will find it very useful.
If You’re on a Tight Budget Do Not Fear!
I know not everybody can afford fancy superfoods and gym memberships so I have made allowances for that. You can live a healthy lifestyle on ANY budget and you really shouldn’t let a lack of funds be the reason for not giving your body good wholesome food and regular exercise.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE? – YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE
1. CLEARING OUT THE JUNK
Start by taking a look in your kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer and take note of all the high fat and high sugar foods you have. If you look at labels then you can see at a glance how much sugar is in a food, it is under the ‘carbohydrates of which sugars‘ section. Anything over 22.5g per 100g is considered high, and anything under 5g is considered low.
Free Sugars – The Bad Guys
The average person is consuming more than double the ‘safe’ amount of sugar than the recommended guidelines. I say ‘safe’ because it is in fact dangerous to repeatedly consume more than our bodies can assimilate – too much sugar causes a blood sugar spike, which triggers an insulin response, and when this happens on a continuous basis things will eventually turn ugly.
An insulin response is quite normal and natural after a meal, BUT an unnatural amount of sugar on a consistent basis will more than likely cause insulin resistance. This then leads to type 2 diabetes and also increases chances of many other diseases such as obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and many cancers.
So knowing all this should be the incentive you need to start eating less sugar, which really is the NUMBER 1 thing you need to do to for your healthy lifestyle. Below are the amounts of ‘free’ sugars‘ in grams that is considered safe by medical professions for you to consume per day.
Men – 38 grams (9 teaspoons)
Women – 25 grams (6-8 teaspoons)
Children under 8 years old – 12.5 grams (3-4 teaspoons)
This isn’t much, and seems mean when you consider that one can of soda is 10 TEASPOONS of sugar, but then I don’t make up the rules. Anyway, there is light at the end of the tunnel for all you sweet toothed ones out there because this only applies to free sugars and NOT whole sugars.
The Difference Between The Two:
Free sugars are so called because the origonal food source has had its sugar extracted from it, and so it is then a ‘fractured‘ food. The extraction process of many foods turns them high GI, by which I mean their sugars hit the bloodstream quickly because their fibers and nutrients have been removed – all of which would have otherwise ‘slowed down’ those sugars. This is done with many foods and not just sugar, but for now we will just focus on sugar.
Example:- Good old-fashioned white table sugar is a ‘free sugar’ because it has been extracted from its fibrous cane and then further more, in the refining processed all of its nutrients are inadvertently removed. This means the body doesn’t have to ‘work‘ to break down those sugars more slowly, as this work that the body should be doing has already been done. As sugar gets broken down and refined even further, as in the case of syrups and fine icing sugars, it becomes even higher GI and even MORE unhealthy. Think high fructose corn syrup!
FREE SUGAR FOODS:
Are all basic white sugar and derivatives of, such as syrups, sugar powders, sweets, confectionery, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, soda’s AND fruit juices. Yes, even fruit juices, because they have had their fiber taken out and juiced down for an easy, but unnatural consumption of fruit. You could easily drink the equivalent of 10 oranges in a juice, BUT you would never eat 10 whole orange in the space of 2 minutes like you can when it is juiced, which means your body will be hit with an unnatural amount of fruit sugar. Remember, our body was designed to eat the ‘whole fruit’.
This process also applies to refined flours, white rice, white pasta, white bread etc, though ‘technically’ not a sugar they are still high GI, and therefore have all the same after effects on the body and still in fact act the same in the body as any other sugar. So thinking you are safe because you’re ‘not sweet toothed‘ isn’t necessarily the case.
WHOLE SUGARS THAT CAN BE EATEN SAFELY:
Whole sugar’s are sweet things that haven’t been fractured in any way and are still in their ‘whole’ form such as:-
All fruits – the lowest sugar being berries of all kinds, and the highest sugar are tropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes, pineapple, papayas and grapes.
Slow roasting sweet vegetables such as parsnip, butternut squash, beetroot, sweet potato and carrots really brings out their sweetness.
Sweeteners such as xylitol, stevia, date paste, and brown rice syrup are all the lowest GI substitutes but should still be eaten in moderation.
Now you have an understanding of sugar and the bad sugars in your cupboards, let’s move onto FAT. Often fat is demonised unfairly but we still need fats on a healthy diet: just the right kind of fats.
Trans fats are the baddies here, and these include almost anything deep-fried – and pretty much ALL junk foods contain trans fats as their primary source of fat, for the simple fact it is cheap. These cheap fats are made in a factory process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oils to make them more solid, but this makes them very bad for our bodies.
You will find these trans fats on your food labels under the term ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil‘. A trans fat is also produced when oils are heated more than once for cooking purposes like in most fast food joints, who will use the same cooking oil to deep fry their foods over and over again.
Foods in your cupboards that will contain either trans or unhealthy fats will be things like biscuits, cheap commercial chocolate, cakes, pre-made frosting for cakes, ready meals like pizza, frozen chips, burgers, and anything deep-fried.
These are the fats that you should be using in the future to cook with, and to pour cold onto salads and dressings
Many people will probably have a lot of items to start swapping and changing in their cupboards, and this is where it could be of much benefit to read this post ’10 Easy Steps to Eating Clean’. This will explain in more depth how to go about this, and also how to start replacing food products over time. Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once.
‘ADDING IN’ HEALTHIER FOODS:
Once you’ve sorted all the rubbish out from your cupboards you can start to think about going for more healthier options when shopping. As well as the above healthier versions of sugars and oils you should add in the following and read ‘A Beginners Guide To Eating Plant Based’.
Fruits, especially dark berries.
Vegetables, especially leafy greens, and orange coloured veggies. It is good to eat a ‘rainbow’ of colours to get the full spectrum of phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Pulses, including lentils, beans such as cannellini, borlotti, soy, kidney, butter, aduki, chick peas, and green peas.
Nuts of all kinds.
Seeds of all kinds.
Wholegrains such as Quinoa, brown rice, brown pasta, amaranth, pearl barley, millet, buckwheat.
Adding specific superfoods to your diet will be the most important thing you can do if you want to boost your health completely into the stratosphere. The difference this makes to how you feel can only be experienced and not explained. Super foods don’t need to be obscure and bank breaking products, they can come as some of the most budget friendly and easily available foods. Just check this out and you’ll see what I mean ‘Top 10 Budget Superfoods’.
The word ‘Super Food‘ is the term given to a food, or group of foods that have high amounts of antioxidants, phytochemicals and nutrients. Antioxidants in particular act as free radical scavengers in the body and can help prevent, and EVEN REVERSE the aging process. Yep, you heard that right, antioxidants are THAT important and will slow down the aging process both inside and out.
You can go to whatever level you wish with your healthy eating lifestyle, but I do recommend if nothing else, that you take a shot of green juice every day as I do, such as wheatgrass, barley grass, chlorella, or best of all buy a blend of all of them.
My absolute favorite blend is Dr. Schulzes Super Food Powderas it is of such high organic quality that you literally feel a boost of energy within 20 minutes of taking it. Truly awesome stuff, and the best I have ever found.
Fortunately you don’t actually need to pay for expensive gym memberships in order to get fit, as you can either do it in your own home, or better still use nature’s very own fitness facilities. Opportunities for fitness are everywhere and you come across them every day, like the beach for running and hills for climbing.
A physically fit body is MAJORLY important to a healthy lifestyle, as the fitter you are the stronger your heart will be, and the less chance you’ll have of sickness and disease. Also, having good amounts of muscle mass will help your body to burn calories even when you are resting, as muscle burns more calories than fat just to maintain itself! Amazing news for those wanting either to lose, or just maintain a healthy weight.
For tips on how you can incorporate regular exercise into your life and how to find the right exercise plan for you, please read my post ‘The Importance of Physical Exercise’, which will help you to get started.
Getting enough good quality sleep is another absolutely VITAL part of a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t get enough then you slowly start to fall apart in both body and mind.
Your body is healing and rejuvenating itself while you sleep and doing all the repair work it cannot do during your waking hours, when it is busy using its resources elsewhere. It is the deep REM sleep that is most important, and we need 2-3 cycles of that a night which we can only get if we get a good 7-9 hours kip in.
Lack of Sleep Can Literally kill You!
Not sleeping enough on a consistent basis can lead to serious health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes: this is due to blood sugar levels being thrown completely out of whack.
4. ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMICALS
You cannot escape many of these, but you can some, such as the chemical cleaners you use in your home and the lotions, potions, soaps and make up that you put onto your body. Your skin is highly absorbent and everything you put on it makes its way in.
Sounds quite awful when it’s put like that, but really makes you realise just how much junk your body has to detoxify every day, and the least we can do is give it a helping hand by cutting down this chemical assault as much as possible. There are all sorts of organic and chemical free cleaning products, make up, shampoos and soaps on the market so it is pretty easy to find swaps for most things.
The Importance of Keeping Toxic Load Down:
Keeping our toxic load down is VERY important as when the body starts to get overloaded with toxins (which it often does in our highly polluted environment) it will gradually break down. and accelerated aging and sickness will eventually occur. This brings me to another great side effect of the alkaline plant based diet, and especiallythe super food green powders, as they ALL help to neutralise and flush toxins from the system.
TOP TIP – Extra virgin coconut oil is the ultimate multidimensional product – it can be used not only in cooking, but as a skin moisturiser for face and body, make-up remover, deep conditioning treatment for hair, and it’s great for teeth whitening.
Stress is another potentially life threatening disorder, but luckily one that we have complete control over if we are willing to put in the time and effort. Stress, when out of control is a big killer, if not THE biggest killer of our time, on one end of the spectrum it can cause headaches, low immunity, frequent infections, palpitations, loss of sexual desire, and insomnia, and on the other end of the spectrum, can lead to heart disease, heart attack cancer, and accelerated aging and inflammation BOTH of which are at the root cause of almost every modern day disease and illness.
You can probably now start to see the connection of all things in the body, and how everything has a knock on effect on everything else to eventually bring about ill health and disease. When you start to see things from another perspective you can see how it’s actually a hundred times EASIER in the long run just to keep yourself healthy in the first place!
Ways to Reduce Stress:
Exercise, especially weight bearing
Getting enough good quality sleep
Talking about your troubles
Switch off all phones/internet/TV distractions and read a book
Take up a hobby you know you’ll enjoy
Exercising or walking in nature
6. KEEP ON LEARNING NEW THINGS
No matter what your age, keeping yourself in a continual cycle of learning new things about the world around you is SO important to an all round healthy lifestyle. Learning keeps your brain sharp, which slows down the aging process, and also gives you a sense of achievement and worthiness.
You can keep your brain active by reading books, starting a new hobby, enrolling on a course that could send you down a new and exiting career path (you can do this at any age, so don’t let that stop you) OR, start your own blog as I have, sharing your interests and experience to help others.The world really is your oyster when you start realising that anything is possible and in every second you are actually creating your own reality.
Adding some spice into your life may be just what the doctor ordered, and cinnamon and weight loss go hand in hand. This delicious, aromatic bark from the genus cinnamomom tree has a key weight loss feature in its ability to stop those unruly SUGAR cravings, and will also help keep blood sugar stable. Both of which are key elements to fighting fat – and more specifically, dangerous belly fat.
Different Types of Cinnamon:
Before we start it is essential for you to understand some little known facts about cinnamon. There are actually 2 different types, Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon, and although they both taste similar, they are very different in terms of health benefits.
For Health Reasons, It is VERY IMPORTANT You Know the below Information About Cinnamon Before You Buy it!!!
Ceylon cinnamon is the more expensive kind but has more superior health benefits, it also has a flaky bark (see pic). But most people who buy pre-ground cinnamon from the supermarket will more than likely be consuming the cassia type. Cassia often comes from China, is 10 times cheaper than ceylon, and is actually BAD for you if you eat it regularly – I will explain why in a bit.
Most cinnamon labels do not disclose which type of cinnamon they use as it all comes under the umbrella term of cinnamon, but pretty much ALL pre-ground super market cinnamon will be this cheaper variety.
Side Effects of Cassia Cinnamon:
The problem with cassia cinnamon is this: although it does share some of the health properties of Ceylon, it is 1200 times higher in a substance called caumarin. This compound is dangerous when ingested regularly (especially if you are going to start using cinnamon every day) as it can cause serious health problems, including liver and kidney damage.
Luckily, most people don’t use cinnamon in high enough amounts for this to be an issue, and it is often just used as an occasional spice in bakery. But if you are going to be using it regularly you should buy the flaky variety of cinnamon bark, NOT the hard curls (see pic), and grind it yourself. This really is the only way to know that you’re getting the real deal.
CINNAMON AND WEIGHT LOSS – PLUS 7 CINNAMON HEALTH BENEFITS
1. WEIGHT LOSS
Cinnamon can help with weight loss – and I’m talking belly fat loss specifically. This is because of the effect it has on blood glucose. When we a eat carbohydrates of any kind, which includes all things sweet, flours, grains, starchy vegetables, pulses and fruit, insulin is naturally released from the pancreas to mop those sugars up pushing them into cells to either be used for energy OR stored as fat.
As most of us are ‘hooked‘ on sugar and high GI carbohydrates, we are often on a sugar train of eating high GI foods, having an insulin response, and then (if those sugars are not used for energy ,which mostly they’re not) having those sugars stored as FAT.
Cinnamon can decrease the amount of glucose entering the blood after a meal by interfering with digestive enzymes, which in turn slows the breaking down of carbohydrates in the digestive system and therefore lowering a meals GI… cool huh?
Low GI Eating:
Cinnamon is a great addition to a weight loss program, however, you should also be eating a low GI diet for not only better blood sugar control, but also because this type of diet not only contains lots of high antioxidant, anti aging super foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses, but also lots of fiber to keep the digestive tract in tip top condition.
For more easy to understand ‘how to’ information on how to make these changes and start clearing the junk out of your life (and more importantly your precious body) please check out these further posts.
A Slower Release of Sugars Means Less Hunger Pangs:
Now to the crux of the matter – the slower those sugars are released into the bloodstream, then slower and more sustained release of energy you will get. This will not only stop you craving more sugar or carby foods again so quickly, but will also make you feel fuller for longer. And that’s the point – stable blood sugar stops the cravings that make you gain weight!
2. IMPROVES INSULIN SENSITIVITY
Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas to clear and transport sugars (carbohydrates) from the blood and into cells. The problem now is many people are becoming insulin resistant due to this hormones overuse in high sugar diets.
Insulin resistance is one of the main hallmarks of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Cinnamon is so powerful that it can actually reduces insulin resistance dramatically: it does this by helping insulin to function properly tolower blood sugar levels.
3. ANTI DIABETES
As well as its powerful effects on insulin cinnamon also lowers blood sugar in other ways:-
Decreasing the amount of glucose to hit the bloodstream after you have eaten a meal.
The insulin mimmicing compound that cinnamon contains helps to vastly improve the uptake of glucose into cells, a good thing because insulin is a vital part of keeping blood sugar stable.
Numerous studies have been conducted that now confirm cinnamon most certainly has anti diabetic properties, and at doeses of 0.5-2 teaspoons a day can lower blood sugar levels by 10-29%.
4. ANTI AGING
All of the above benefits lead into the amazing benefit of anti aging too. A low GI diet and better blood sugar control will keep you looking young, and that’s an absolute FACT! All these sugar highs and lows actually accelerate the aging process, not just on the outside, but on the inside too.
A low GI diet and blood sugar control will keep chronic inflammation to a minimum, which in turn will lower your chances of many diseases and illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, alzheimer’s and some cancer’s. Given the fact that cinnamon in itself is a powerful anti inflammatory, adding it to a low GI diet will only enhance this effect.
Cinnamon is higher in antioxidants than any other herb or spice. Antioxidants are an absolutely essential part of our diet because they mop up the free radical damage caused in our bodies by toxins. These toxins come from many sources, such as food, environment, sun exposure, alcohol or nicotine. In fact we are being bombarded from ALL angles by toxins every day, and many of which we have no control over such as traffic pollution and aeroplane fuel.
Free radicals are basically unpaired electrons that steal electrons from our own cells, thus causing damage to our DNA. This damage then causes aging and disease, but eating high levels of antioxidant rich foods will help negate this damage and slow down the aging process.
6. LOWERS RISK OF HEART DISEASE
Now the biggest killer of our time, heart disease is something we all simply must take preventative measures towards, and this is where cinnamon could be a great supplement. A recent study concluded that a dose of just 120 milligrams a day can reduce bad LDL cholesterol and trigylcerides, and increase good HDL cholesterol.
7. ANTI CANCER
Cinnamon’s effect on cancer cells and tumor growth has so far only been studied in animals, but was found to be toxic to cancer cells and to cause cancer cell death.
A separate study on mice with colon cancer showed cinnamon had the ability to activate detoxifying enzymes in the colon, therefore having a protective effect against further growth. These amazing results were also supported in test tube experiments, where it was seen in human colon cells to activate a protective antioxidant response.
8. ANTI FUNGAL
Cinnamon is a powerful anti fungal, anti microbial and anti bacterial, and is great in the treatment of fungal infections such as in candida overgrowth. It can also inhibit certain bacteria like salmonella and listeria from growing.
It is often used as a digestive aid to help eliminate gas and bloating, and also alleviates IBS symptoms.
HOW TO USE CINNAMON
Cinnamon is a very versatile spice: after you have sourced out yourrealceylon cinnamon’ sticks (don’t forget, these are the FLAKY bark variety, not the hard tubes), you can grind them up in either a coffee grinder or pestel and mortar and add to pretty much anything you fancy.
Freshly ground cinnamon tastes just fabulous and smells super fresh. You can bake with it, sprinkle it on your cereal, or add to deserts, yogurt’s or hot drinks such as herbal tea’s or your bedtime milk.
Go crazy with it and try new things, just be sure to get at least a teaspoon into your diet every day to reap all these awesome benefits.
We’re always looking for easy tricks and cheats to help burn off the pounds with minimum effort right? Well the apple cider vinegar diet is exactly that – it’s easy to do, cheap, and takes absolute minimum effort – just what we’re all looking for.
Apple cider vinegar has actually been around for centuries, and been used for quite literally all manner of things from killing viruses to a shine tonic for hair. There’s no doubt it’s versatile, and recent studies are proving some great facts about apple cider vinegar (ACV) mainly in regards to it’s weight loss properties.
WHAT EXACTLY IS APPLE CIDER VINEGAR?
Apple cider vinegar is made by crushing cider apples and squeezing out the liquid, after which bacteria and yeast are added to the juice, triggering the fermentation process. It is this fermentation process that turns the sugars from the apple juice into alcohol. After this there is a secondary fermentation process where an acetic acid-forming bacterium will convert that alcohol into vinegar.
This is a process that can be done in your own home with just a few ingredients (if you’re inclined to making homemade things), OR as apple cider vinegar is relatively cheap to buy it may be a good idea to purchase a bottle and try it out first.
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Weight Loss?
This is the $64,0000 question…well in short, apple cider vinegar may work on different levels as a weight loss aid, and can very easily be added into your diet with a little knowledge and know how. Let’s take a look at how some of the latest research and evidence adds up.
It is the compound acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar that is said to have these weight loss benefits. A study on mice from Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistryfound that apple cider vinegar suppresses body fat mass and increases energy expenditure, therefore resulting in weight loss.
A similar study involving 155 obese patients discovered that over 12 weeks, those in the group that consumed 15-30 ml (1-2 tablespoons) of apple cider vinegar had lower body weight, lower body fat, and fewer inches on their waist than those who didn’t. This was without making any other changes to their lifestyle or diet.
And yet another study found that in a 12-week period the participants taking between 12-30 ml (1-2 tablespoons) of apple cider vinegar before a high carbohydrate meal had feelings of satiety, and this led to an overall reduction of 200-275 calorie intake over the rest of the day.
You can imagine how this adds up over the weeks and months. In fact, those taking a 15ml dosage 1xdaily before a high GI meal lost 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg) over the 12-week period, and those taking a double dose of 30ml 1xdaily before a high GI meal lost 3.7 lbs (1.7 kg).
This is awesome news, and definitely warrants giving apple cider vinegar a shot to see if it works for you. Try it with your main or highest GI meal of the day, for best results ideally your highest GI meal should be at breakfast or lunch which is when you need the energy for the day ahead.
You will also want the effects of satiety to help you eat less food for the rest of the day. Have higher protein meals in the evening when your body needs less energy.
Satisfaction and fullness were the two key points of the study, as these are the two most important components to long term weight loss. Nothing is worse than eating a paltry “diet” meal and still feeling hungry afterwards. No sir, we do NOT like that! This not only hinders our weight loss efforts making us more likely to ‘cave’ at the mere whiff of a cream horn, and also makes our lives miserable. Balance in everything is always the key!
LONG TERM BENEFITS
So, anything that we can add into our every day diets that may give us an extra edge is well worth the effort. You may not lose huge amounts of weight on apple cider vinegar alone in the short term, but look at the long term benefits. You could also just use it for weight maintainence. Every little helps.
LOW GI MEALS
Lowering a meals GI really is the cornerstone to losing weight, and belly fat specifically. GI (glycemic index)is the rate in which a foods sugar hits the bloodstream, the higher the GI the quicker the sugars are released (high GI foods are considered fast sugars) and this is bad in terms of weight loss and health in general.
Excess Sugar is Stored as Fat
When sugar is released quickly into the blood like it is with high GI foods, this prompts the body have a rapid and huge insulin response in order to clear those sugars out of the bloodstream. This sugar is then sent into the liver and muscles where it is metabolised and either used for energy or stored as FAT.
The problem is, these ‘fast’ sugars don’t all get used up for energy (unless you’re about to run a marathon or do something that involves vast amounts of energy) and so they are stored as fat. And worse still they are stored as the dangerous abdominal fat that is much more of a health risk in terms of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
This is where having the GI of your meal lessened by apple cider vinegar may be of benefit not only in terms of weight loss, but also for the general health benefits of keeping blood sugar stable.
WHAT IS THE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR DIET?
How To Take Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss purposes:
Firstly, there are many ways you can add apple cider vinegar to your diet as it is pretty versatile and can easily be added to your meals in various ways. If you want to actually lose weight like the participants in the study, then I suggest you do what they did and have 15-30 ml in water with a squeeze of lemon and maybe a little raw honey to taste before your highest carb meal of the day.
Or you could take 15 ml twice a day, one before breakfast and one before lunch if this fits in better with your life style. Either way you should take up to 30 ml a day, but no more than that in case of stomach issues.
If you are just going for weight maintenance then you could just try adding apple cider vinegar to your every day diet in other ways such as:
In a salad dressing
In a hot drink with lemon, honey, cinnamon sticks, sliced fresh ginger and cloves (great for colds but also a tasty drink just for a cold winters day).
Other Ways of Weight Management
Do not rely on apple cider vinegar alone. Boost your fat burning efforts even more by incorporating these other fat burning foods into your diet. Altogether they will all have a cumulative effect, making it easy for you to stay trim without having to bat an eyelid – all you need to do is to make sure you do add them into your diet as much as possible!
OTHER USES FOR APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar improves insulin sensitivity and can significantly lower blood sugar levels and insulin response, AND when 2 tablespoons are taken before bed can reduce your fasting blood sugars by 4%, making this vinegar useful for diabetics, pre diabetics and EVERYBODY in general. We can all benefit from stable blood sugar – indeed it is vital if we are to avoid many potential health issues in the long term, and let’s not forget, stable blood sugar helps keep us slim!
Important Note: You may need to consult your doctor before using apple cider vinegar if you are on other blood sugar lowering medications.
2. KILLS BACTERIA
The substance acetic acid which is the compound in apple cider vinegar, can kill pathogens including bacteria and prevent them from multiplying to harmful levels – although not all of these uses have been tested scientifically as of yet. Apple cider vinegar has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of wound healing, disinfecting, treating fungal infections, warts, lice and ear infections.
3. LOWERS CHOLESTEROL
The biggest killer of our time is now cardiovascular disease, and both heart disease and stroke come under this term. Some studies in rats have so far shown that apple cider vinegar may help negate some of the risk factors that are precursers to cardiovascular disease. This is because ACV may help lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure, and also protect LDL particles from becoming oxidised (oxidation is a crucial step in the heart disease process).
It must be noted here that these studies have only so far been trialed in rats, and more research is needed before anything is confirmed. But as apple cider vinegar has so many other benefits with no nasty side effects you have nothing to lose by trying it.
Raw, unpasturised apple cider vinegar like other fermented foods, acts as a probiotic for the gut and contains trace minerals, pectin, beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Keeping the gut in balance by eating lots of probiotic and prebiotic foods keeps the immune system strong, weight under control, balances hormones, AND can even treat depression and anxiety. Yes, everything starts in our gut so it is crucial we keep it ticking over nicely.
Important Note: As with most things in life, you really must source out good quality if you want to reap the most benefits. When it comes to apple cider vinegar you really should purchase Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the ‘MOTHER‘. I know this may sound strange but this term means ‘unfiltered’, ‘unrefined’ and ‘unpasturised’. The ‘Mother’ is the colony of beneficial bacteria that is similar to a Kombucha ‘SCOBY‘. This is what helps make the vinegar through its secondary fermentation process.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds to find this as most apple cider vinegar’s already contain the ‘Mother’, and this will be labelled on the packaging as such.
Extra Weight Loss Tips:
For long term weight loss and management I believe it is far better to make a number of different weight control tactics a habit. Don’t rely on any one thing as there is so much more you can do to get your body in to its best shape ever. For more information you may want to check out ‘15 Plant Based Weight Loss Superstars’and ‘Burn Stomach Fat Fast’.