4 Clever Ways to Improve Your Nutritional Intake

Fruits and vegetables provide us with nutrients and vitamins that our bodies need to stay healthy. They provide us with a way to combat numerous diseases, reduce blood pressure and even prevent certain kinds of cancer.
 
For those looking to improve their diets, but dislike the thought of eating more vegetables, we’ve found 5 clever ways to help you and your loved ones switch up your diet and consume more healthier items.

1. Switch Over to Olive Oil


 
If you haven’t already, making the switch to olive oil will help make a huge difference in your health. Research has shown that olive oil has the ability to improve your health, as it is high in antioxidants, can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels and even reduce inflammation.

2. Disguise Vegetables


 
For those who are picky about what they eat and completely refuse eating their greens, you can put vegetables into dishes in places they normally wouldn’t suspect.
 
For example, when putting together some homemade burgers, shred some squash or carrots along with the meat and add it into the mix. They’ll be none the wiser, and it’ll taste just as good.

3. Experiment With Different Vegetables


 
Eventually, you’re bound to run into a vegetable that you actually like the taste of. There’s no need to have the mentality that you hate every vegetable, go in with a fresh and open mentality to everything you try. Sure there are some disgusting vegetables out there, but for every gross one there’s an equally delicious one.
 
Go out there and try new things, you never know what you may actually like until you actually try it.

4. Soups!


 
Soups are a great way to increase your intake of vegetables in a much easier and tastier way.
 
Most people don’t consume as much vegetables as they should, and a great way to remedy this problem would be to make soups filled with vegetables instead of eating raw vegetables.

Cold and Flu Season: How-to Decipher the Color of Your Phlegm

THE DREADED cold and flu season is well and truly upon us, but many of us find it difficult to decipher between the two.
 
Watery eyes, a runny nose and general lethargy are among the common health ailments that strike us down when the silliness of the festive season subsides.
 
A persistent chesty cough has swept the nation this year, even plaguing Queen Elizabeth II.
 
Coughing up phlegm goes hand-in-hand with this particular predicament. While revolting, the sticky substance can signal a lot about the state of your health.
 

Many of us find it difficult to decipher between cold and flu


 
Speaking to MailOnline, she said: “The fact you have a runny nose or are coughing up phlegm shows your body is fighting off infection and, hopefully, eliminating it from your body.”
 
Dr Brewer also said the colour of your phlegm can reveal how serious your infection is.
 
She continued: “If it’s very discoloured, as in green or brown, or blood-stained, it’s wise to seek medical advice from a pharmacist or your GP.”
 

Phlegm can signal a lot about the state of your health


 
The expert explained phlegm and mucus works to protect our bodies by keeping our airways, lungs and nasal passages moist.
 
Its sticky consistency works to trap dust, pollution and allergen particles to prevent them reaching our lungs.
 
Mucus, commonly referred to as phlegm or snot, also contains immune cells and antibodies that help fight infection.
 
Our bodies constantly produce the substance, but if there is an excessive amount or it is ‘off colour’, it could signify a more serious infection.
 
According to Dr Brewer, if your mucus is white it signals the tissues in your nose have swollen up.
 
She said: “If you cough up white phlegm it may mean you have an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold, or an allergy, which can cause congested sinuses.”
 
Healthy people coughing up a substance that is yellow or green are likely fighting a bacterial or viral infection. This could be caused by sinuses, or the lower respiratory tract.
 
For people suffering chronic lung disease, secretions of this colour could suggest an infection, and professional advice is recommended.
 
If you notice pink or red coloured mucus, it could be the sign of a chest infection and urgent medical attention should be sought.
 
Dr Brewer advised the darker the phlegm, the more likely you are to have something serious going on.
 
Brown or black coloured mucus – most typically seen in smokers – could be a sign of fungal or bacterial pneumonia, which is linked to long-term inhalation of irritants or dust.
 
In this case, make it your first priority to see a GP.

The Easiest Way to Improve Your Health: Drink More Water

Improving your health shouldn’t be a challenge, instead of trying to tackle on huge hurdles at a time, why not make smaller steps towards goals in the long run?
 
Something as small as drinking more water daily isn’t too big of a task, so look at these benefits of drinking water as a way to a better, healthier lifestyle.

Water is a Great Way to Flush Your System


 
By re-hydrating your body with water, it helps to flush out all the waste and toxicity produced within your body everyday.
 
When you’re re-hydrated, your body is easier able to ingest more nutrients and vitamins, making everything you eat more effective.

Stay Looking Youthful


 
It has been estimated that the human body is composed around 60% of water, so when you’re dehydrated it can be reflected in the way your skin looks. When fully hydrated your body functions at a much better state, and your skin has the tendency to glow more.
 
So if you’re looking at an easier and much better cost effective way of maintaining your youth, drink more water!

Boost Your Brain Power


 
They say that the brain is composed 75% of water, so it has been concluded that the brain functions at a higher capacity when fully hydrated. Research has shown that with the water levels in the body dropping as low as 5% has the ability to mess with the bodies ability to properly flow blood.

Why You Should Be Playing Music For Your Brain

Thinking of how you can keep your brain sharp? Play music.
 
music-brain-2016-billboard-650
 
By playing music, you can improve your brain structure and function. It can also help improve your memory in the long run. For those who start early, it can also result in better brain development.
 
Those who play music also have better and faster reaction times to those who do not play music.
 
Being a musician may also lower cognitive decline one may face as they get older.
 
Being a musician also requires one to use various senses at the same time; such as touch – feeling the guitar’s strings on your fingers – to listening to the cord’s sounds as you strum the guitar.
 
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Also, by learning to play a musical instrument, it can affect one’s abilities outside of music as well.
 
So improve your brain by picking up an instrument! You are doing much more than making music.
 
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This Will Make You Swear Off Green Smoothies Forever!

Vegetable culprits included in green smoothies are celery, and parsley, maca (usually as powder) as well as others like spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens swiss chard.
 
So, the question is, are these green monsters really good for you?
 
Raw Leafy Greens Contain High Oxalate Levels
 
Consumption of quantities of raw, leafy green vegetables as occurs when a person drinks green smoothies can be deceiving at first as a person will probably initially feel great after adopting this habit. Great switch from McDonald’s.
 
“The vegetables used in green smoothies are almost without exception high oxalate foods. Over time, a high oxalate diet can contribute to some very serious health problems. High oxalate diet can deal a devastating blow to health.”
 
greensmoothies2
 
Oxalate Toxicity Not a New Problem
 
Humans have suffered the effects of oxalate toxicity since ancient times.
 
Oxalates can be deposited almost anywhere in the body and wherever they land, pain or worse is the result.
 
75-90% of kidney stones are oxalate-related with 10-15% of Americans afflicted at some point during their lives.
 
Does Cooking Destroy Oxalates?
 
What about cooking the greens first? Would this reduce the risk of oxalate overload and make green smoothies safer?
 
Not really, because oxalates are extremely stable. While cooking high oxalate foods and discarding the cooking water does reduce the level of anti-nutrients, it remains quite high.
 
If you consume green smoothies only occasionally, however, a light steaming is a good idea. This practice adds a degree of safety to the process.
 
What to do if a Green Smoothie Diet Has Already Harmed Your Health
 
Are you already are suffering from some of the ailments described in this article? Do you suspect a high oxalate diet which includes green smoothies or a daily spinach salad may be the cause? If so, stop this practice immediately and consult with a holistic physician. You will likely need professional assistance to guide you on the road to recovery. Ridding your body of oxalate crystals that are potentially irritating one or more of your body tissues is no simple task! It is advisable not to attempt this on your own.

Make Strides Like A Runner

To all new runners!
 
Running
 
It may look easy watching as runners stride effortlessly as they go, but there’s technique to what they’re doing. Personal trainers and instructors will tell you it’s all in the form.
 
In order to be a better runner, you must run the proper way which involves using several muscle groups. It’s also important to warm up before running.
 
stretching-exercises
 
By warming up, you are decreasing the risk of injury as well as preparing your muscles for the run. So when warming up, make sure to warm up everything! Your chest, shoulders, core, back, arms, calves, and quads!
 
With all of this in mind, you are now set to go.
 
man_running_race-660x400
 

A Beginner’s Guide to Hot Yoga

If you want to improve your flexibility and can tolerate heat – and you’re not pregnant and don’t have high blood pressure, a heart condition, osteoporosis or a disc issue – then hot yoga might be for you.
 
I survived two classes. One flow class at Iam Yoga with friend and colleague Harry, and one moksha class at Moksha Yoga Danforth with friends Tara and Nate. If destressing in the heat sounds appealing, then you are in luck; you will have no trouble googling a studio near you. In the past, I have tried Bikram at Found City Yoga in Victoria and Moksha Yoga in Montreal, but iterations of hot yoga are offered across the country.

The promise

Moksha Danforth states its class “strengthens, tones and loosens” muscles while simultaneously “reducing stress.” Iam Yoga says the heat allows for “deeper, safer and more effective movements, while also assisting in the detoxification of the body.”

What to expect


 
Heat. Sweat. Body odour. Did I mention heat? Temperatures range from 32 C to 42 C and classes last 60 to 90 minutes. Harry joked that his shirt was so sweaty it “must weigh a thousand pounds.”
 
Moksha and flow are very different workouts. Heat aside, I much preferred the flow class; it combines yoga poses with Pilates and “fitness”-style exercises. We did traditional poses and combos – vinyasas, warrior etc. – as well as Pilates-inspired combinations such as a side plank that flowed into a side lunge. I was challenged and far from bored.
 
Moksha is slower and in no way resembles a traditional group fitness class; it is a mixture of therapeutic and traditional yoga done in a heated room.
 
The difference between the two classes can be summarized by the number of vinyasas performed. At Moksha, we did maybe five; at Iam, we did more than 20, each paired with a Pilates or core-inspired exercise.

The verdict

Tara, Nate and Harry loved their experiences. I enjoyed exercising with my friends, but as a fitness professional, I am wary of hot yoga.
 
Too often, yoga – especially hot yoga – is dangerously sold as the panacea for all physical ailments. Yoga requires spinal flexion, rotation and side-bending. If you have osteoporosis or a disc bulge, extremes of these motions can be contraindicated. Plus, not everyone needs increased flexibility; too much mobility can be detrimental. Optimal biomechanics require a balance of strength and flexibility. Hypermobile individuals need to prioritize strength training, not yoga
 
The heat raises other concerns. Being pregnant, managing a heart condition or high blood pressure are all contraindications to exercising in the heat. As well, the heat increases the likelihood you will overstretch. As you approach the limits of your flexibility, your body provides a pain response and that’s a good thing – it tells you how far you can safely stretch. Heat does not make you more flexible; it just delays the pain response, which allows you to stretch further at that moment and makes it more likely you will stretch past your limits and cause injuries.
 
Hot yoga is not for everyone, especially not beginners. Most yoga classes have a high teacher-to-student ratio, which is always potentially risky, but particularly so for hot yoga. If you are not used to the heat, you don’t know the moves and you don’t know your personal limits in a non-heated room, it is next to impossible to judge your limits in a heated room. Nate said it best: All beginners should “ask questions, connect with the teacher and work at their own pace.”
 

 
Hot yoga does have positives – all forms of movement can be positive.
 
Yoga requires one to, as Nate put it, be “in the now,” to focus on the current pose and thus forget work, relationships, money, technology and other stressors. It is done in a judgment-free zone, which is something we are all need in our “never enough” – as Brené Brown calls it – society. The intended class take-away is to work to be the best version of yourself, not an unrealistic, “perfect” ideal, and to strive for self-improvement through the lens of self-acceptance.
 
Yoga, like all exercise, also helps with stress and energy management. Harry said the class “drained his anxious and stressed energy.” I concur. Yoga also improves flexibility, which is an important component of fitness for some. Attending a class is also a positive way to connect socially. As Tara said, “doing yoga with Nate is something we can do together.”
 
Hot yoga is not my bliss. Unless dragged by friends, I will stick to non-heated flow classes. If you love hot yoga – and you have no direct contraindications – do it. Moving is always good – just be safe. Stay hydrated, listen to your body and participate in a few regular yoga classes first to figure out your limits. Keep in mind that you can experience the psychological and physical benefits mentioned above from most forms of exercise – including regular yoga – without the added physical stress and risks associated with exercising in extreme heat.

Growing Increase of Antibiotic Resistant Germs from Drug Overuse

A Nevada woman in her 70s who’d recently returned from India died in September from a “superbug” infection that resisted all antibiotics, according to a report released Friday.
 
The case raises concern about the spread of such infections, which have become more common over past decades as germs have developed resistance to widely used antibiotics.
 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “basically reported that there was nothing in our medicine cabinet to treat this lady,” report co-author Dr. Randall Todd told the Reno Gazette-Journal. He’s director of epidemiology and public health preparedness for the Washoe County Health District, in Reno.
 
The report was published Jan. 13 in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
 
As reported by Todd and his colleagues, the woman fractured her right leg while in India and underwent multiple hospitalizations in that country over two years. The last such hospitalization occurred in June.
 
She returned to the United States but was admitted to the Reno-area hospital on Aug. 18 with a severe inflammatory reaction to an infection in her right hip.
 

 
On Aug. 19, doctors isolated a sample of a known antibiotic-resistant “superbug” — known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) — from the patient.
 
CDC testing subsequently revealed the germ was New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM) — a highly resistant form of CRE typically found outside the United States.
 
“Antimicrobial susceptibility testing in the United States indicated that the isolate was resistant to 26 antibiotics,” the researchers reported. In effect, the germ “was resistant to all available antimicrobial drugs,” they said.
 
As soon as CRE was identified, “the patient was placed in a single room under contact precautions,” Todd’s group wrote. The woman later developed septic shock and died in early September.
 
The doctors say the case — the first ever in Nevada — highlights the fact that patients treated in hospitals in other countries can acquire these extremely dangerous infections.
 

 
“The patient in this report had inpatient health care exposure in India before receiving care in the United States,” the team noted. In such cases, U.S. health care facilities “should obtain a history of health care exposures outside their region upon admission and consider screening for CRE,” they said.
 
Dr. Lei Chen is epidemiologist program manager for the health district, and a co-author of the new report.
 
She told the Reno Gazette-Journal that it’s always possible that staff at a foreign hospital “don’t do a good infection control, or they don’t have good hygiene, and it could be spread.”
 
Todd said other patients in the same unit at the Reno hospital were also tested for the infection, but none tested positive.
 
“Had any of the other patients been infected with this, they would have had the same resistance,” he said. “This is kind of scary stuff, and that’s why we jump on things like this very quickly. We were pleased that the hospital responded as quickly and comprehensively as they did.”
 

 
Both doctors stressed that the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant germs is caused by the overuse of these drugs — often for conditions for which they are useless.
 
For example, people will often ask for an antibiotic for a cold or flu, which are caused by viruses. Antibiotics target bacteria, not viruses.
 
“Even if you’re able to talk your doctor into prescribing them, and many people are able to do that, that is not going to help your cold or the flu in any way, shape or form,” Todd said.

How Effective is the Consumption of Supplements Vs Actual Food?

Three out of four Canadians put their trust in vitamins and dietary supplements to improve their health and fitness despite persistent questions about their effectiveness. Among the most frequent users are athletes and gym rats — 40 to 70 per cent consume pills and powders in the hope of aiding recovery, building muscle and boosting energy.
 
The premise behind most supplement use is that they enhance or fortify a diet lacking in a particular nutrient or micronutrient. Athletes who indulge consider supplements a necessary part of their training regimen, typically using protein powders and amino acids to regenerate a body broken down by tough workouts.
 
Despite a burgeoning market that has seen supplements go from behind the counter to over the counter, there’s little evidence that health and performance can be improved with the help of any of the 55,000 products on the market. This in spite of the $250-300 million invested annually by the American-based National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund research into the field of dietary supplements.
 
To date none of that research has demonstrated significant improvements in health and/or performance and most supplements don’t measure up to the claims on the label. Echinacea had little effect on the common cold, St. John’s wort didn’t combat depression, ginkgo biloba was unsuccessful at making us smarter and amino acid supplements failed to help athletes jump higher, run faster or throw farther.
 
“For the majority of adults, supplements likely provide little, if any, benefit,” said Peter Cohen in an editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this past October.
 

 
That doesn’t mean that supplements are worthless. On the contrary, when used to complement diets that are short on the nutrients needed to maintain health and performance, vitamins and supplements can be useful. But even then, there’s cause for concern. Studies in neutral labs have shown that one in five products sold by retailers in Canada and the U.S. don’t conform to the ingredients listed on the label. In some cases the products were short on ingredients and in others, consumers were getting more than they bargained for. This lack of product control is a problem for anyone combining supplements with other medications and for elite athletes who may be subject to random drug testing by sporting agencies looking to curb the use of banned performance enhancing substances.
 
A number of media reports have highlighted the lack of robust science around the use of supplements and the uncertainty regarding the purity of their contents, but until recently there was little to suggest that the average consumer is listening. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association used data obtained from 37,000 interviews to highlight some interesting trends that imply supplement users may indeed be paying attention.
 
According to this impressively large pool of information collected between 1999 and 2012, there was a notable decline in the popularity of several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, ginseng and selenium. Also suffering from a dip in use is multivitamins, which the study’s authors suggest is due to “increased scrutiny of multivitamins following several studies showing no benefit.” But while these select supplements proved less popular, others saw their use increase.
 

 
Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements (used to reduce joint pain), omega-3 fatty acids (claims of reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease), lycopene (claims to reduce the risk of prostate cancer), vitamin D (various claims including reducing the risk of cancer, fractures, cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis) and probiotics all realized a spike in popularity that helped keep overall sales relatively constant.
 
Is there any proof that the latest round of supplements are any better than those that have fallen out of favour? Not yet, though labs around the world are still trying to find a product that delivers fitness and wellness in a bottle. In the meantime, nutrition experts claim a healthy lifestyle delivers all the benefits consumers are trying to find in pills and powders.
 
“In most cases, good training, a healthy and balanced diet and enough rest will help your performance more than any supplement,” said Dietitians of Canada.
 
That said, some types of training and schedules make it difficult to consume all the nutrients needed to optimize health and performance. In that case, supplements can be helpful, though the type and quantities should be chosen with the help of a certified nutritionist who specializes in sports performance. Keep in mind that most personal trainers have little or no formal training in nutrition and shouldn’t be considered experts in evaluating your need for supplements.
 

 
“Nutritionists can help you get the results you want,” said Catherine Naulleau, a Montreal-based sports nutritionist who works with elite and recreational athletes.
 
Consult the Dieticians of Canada website for basic guidelines on nutritional and sports supplements as well as for a list of dietitians in your area. Until then, rely on proven pathways to better health and performance, like healthy food, regular exercise and a good night’s sleep.

How ‘Healthy’ Are Your Food Products? Research Shows Surprising Amount of Added Sugar

Pay careful attention to those ‘healthy’ food labels.
 
Two-thirds of food and beverages tested by a group of Ontario researchers, including baby foods and products marketed as healthy, were found to contain added sugar.
 
The researchers, from Public Health Ontario and the University of Waterloo, examined the ingredients of 40,829 products sold in March 2015 at a national grocery retailer.
 
In a study published in Thursday’s issue of CMAJ Open, Erin Hobin and her team searched for 30 different added sugar terms, ranging from sugar to dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose and fruit juice concentrate.
 
Dietitians say added sugars are a concern because they tend to be consumed in much larger quantities than naturally occurring sugars found in foods such as bananas or milk.
 

Mother Sarah Nowak searches for the 30 different terms for added sugar with her youngest daughter, Cersei


 
Added sugars are a sign of more food processing, which has health implications, including weight gain and high blood pressure. The World Health Organization and Heart & Stroke now recommend that people limit their sugar intake to no more than 10 per cent of overall calories, or about 12 teaspoons a day
 
“It definitely is tricky,” Hobin said in an interview. “You definitely need to know what you are looking for when you are scanning the ingredients list, and you really need to be a detective and take your time.”
 
Added sugars are defined as all sugars added to foods by the manufacturer plus the sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.
 
Examples of names for sugar include fruit juice concentrate, dextrose and high-fructose corn syrup. For more, see “Sugar’s on the food label, but …”
 
Products you might suspect contain the most added sugar, such as candy or chocolate, showed the highest sugar content.

Fruit juice processing

“What we also found was that some of the products that are marketed as healthy also frequently contain added sugar. So that included breakfast cereals, granola bars and a lot of fruit juices,” Hobin said.
 
Sarah Nowak of Toronto is the mother of three girls, ages six, three and 18 months.
 
“These, I thought, were just dried fruit,” Nowak said as she examined the front of one box. “Once again, where are the ingredients? Apple puree, concentrated juices, more juices, blueberry juice, carrot juice.”
 
When whole fruits and vegetables are processed, nutrients are stripped away, Hobin explained.
 
“You are just left with the fruit juice concentrate that is used as a sweetener, so it is put back into products to sweeten up the product.”
 
Almost half of all infant formulas and baby food studied also listed added sugars as part of their ingredients.
 
Nowak said she wished the labels were more transparent. “It makes me feel a little bit duped,” she said.
 
The researchers suspected a large proportion of products on grocery store shelves contained added sugar, but there was little empirical data. Now, they have a snapshot.
 
Some evidence suggests that if you feed sugary food to young children, then their palate adjusts, and they grow more attracted to that in the future, said Bill Jeffery, executive director of the Centre for Health Science and Law in Ottawa. “It may be cultivating a lifelong market.”
 

Fruit juice concentrate that food processors use as sweetener has the nutrients stripped away, said Erin Hobin of Public Health Ontario


 
If food labels indicated products weren’t very healthful, then sales would decline.
 
“They have a strong vested interest in making sure that the nutrition labeling is as useless as possible, to be candid,” Jeffery said.
 
In December, Health Canada announced changes related to the list of ingredients and nutrition facts table — the information boxes on the back of food products.
 
The federal government won’t require labelling of added sugars.

Group added sugars together

Asked why, a departmental spokeswoman said, “Added sugars are ingredients that manufacturers add to their products and that must be declared in the list of ingredients.
 
“The Nutrition Facts table declares the amount of nutrients, rather than ingredients. On the Canadian Nutrition Facts table, the amount of added sugars in the food is included in the amount of total sugars, which is consistent with the approach to all other nutrients. Laboratory tests cannot distinguish between naturally occurring and added sugars.”
 
Health Canada is requiring manufacturers to group all added sugars together in the ingredients list.
 
Food & Consumer Products of Canada, an industry association, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CBC News.
 
The analysis did not include fresh fruits or vegetables, fresh meat, raw ingredients (water, baking ingredients, coffee, tea, fats and oils, etc.) and non-food items (such as natural health products or nutrition and protein supplements).