The old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has roots that can be traced back to the mid-1800s. Naturally, one might assume that such outdated advice would have little value today. While an apple a day indeed lacks the ability to reduce the frequency of your doctor’s visits, adding the fruit to your diet could improve your health in several ways. Here’s a look at the many benefits of apples.
Apples are highly nutritious, delivering a considerable dose of fiber at just 95 calories on average. They also have 9% of your daily value of vitamin C, which helps neutralize harmful free radicals and works to protect the body against illness. Apples also have antioxidants such as caffeic acid, quercetin, and epicatechin.
Regularly eating an apple could reduce your risk of several chronic illnesses, including heart disease. Experts suspect this could be due to the flavonoids in the fruit, which curb inflammation and promote heart health. They also contain soluble fiber, which helps to control blood pressure and cholesterol.
The antioxidants in apples, including flavonoids, could help to reduce cancer risk. Eating more apples has been linked to a reduced risk of lung cancer and colorectal cancer. A diet that prioritizes fruits and vegetables could also help prevent against cancer in the stomach, lungs, colon, oral cavity, and esophagus.
In addition to the benefits listed above, regular consumption of apples supports weight management, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and may prevent against cognitive decline. Apples can also control the risk of diabetes and asthma.
Of course, there’s always the potential to have too much of a good thing, and rapidly increasing your apple intake may backfire. For example, the fiber in apples could lead to stomach issues, such as gas and bloating. Apples are also fairly high in carbohydrates, so people following certain diets, such as the ketogenic diet, may need to avoid or reduce their apple intake.
Ultimately, eating a varied diet with many different fruits and vegetables is likely best if you’re seeking the greatest health benefits. While you can certainly aim to eat more apples, you might also consider swapping them out with other fruits and vegetables as well—especially those packed with nutrients. Bananas, blueberries, carrots, kale, broccoli, grapefruit, spinach, raspberries, peaches, pears, pineapples, and strawberries are all good options to consider.
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Your immune system is your body’s most powerful line of defense against infection and illness. It comprises cells in many different areas of your body which must all work together in harmony. The immune system is affected by many different factors, including your diet and overall lifestyle. Here are some natural approaches to help you maintain strong immunity.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
Plant-based foods deliver nutrients your body needs to support strong immune function. For instance, key nutrients such as zinc, folate, selenium, iron, and B12, many of which can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables, help the immune system do its job. Certain herbs and spices, such as cumin, oregano, thyme, and cinnamon, also have antiviral and antimicrobial properties to help keep infections at bay. Of course, vitamin C is also a well-known agent for strengthening immunity, which can be found in citrus fruit, red bell pepper, and many cruciferous vegetables. You’ll also want to get plenty of protein to supply your body with amino acids that help the body resist infection.
When the body is consistently stressed, it releases the stress hormone cortisol. On a short-term basis, this phenomenon helps the body react to the issue causing the stress by putting the immune system on hold. Over a long-term basis, however, it prevents the immune system from doing its job effectively. To combat chronic stress, try calming exercises such as journaling, meditating, or finding an enjoyable hobby, such as reading.
Insufficient sleep prevents your body from producing and distributing the cells that regulate immunity. It also raises cortisol levels, further compromising the immune system. In one study, people who didn’t sleep enough were more susceptible to the flu virus, even if they’d been vaccinated. Aim to get seven hours of quality slumber each night, and use tactics such as sleeping in a cool room and turning off electronics an hour before bed to get rest.
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of both chronic illnesses and acute infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Activities such as walking and cycling are ideal, but you can also mix in strength training to keep the muscles and bones strong.
Avoid Smoking & Alcohol
High alcohol consumption has been linked to diminished immunity and longer recovery times, while smoking also interferes with immune system function. If you do drink, do so in moderation, and avoid smoking or make a plan to quit.
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Is a Low-Fat, Vegan Diet Healthy?
Diets that avoid animal products have been the subject of debate for decades. Although their health benefits have been called into question, new research suggests a low-fat, vegan diet can boost wellness in many ways. Thus, if you’re considering limiting or avoiding animal products, improved health is perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to make the switch.
How Do Low-Fat, Vegan Diets Benefit Health?
According to a study published in JAMA Network Open in November 2020, this dietary approach helped overweight and obese individuals lose just under a pound a week over the course of four months. Compared with the control group who made no dietary changes, the vegan group consumed 355 fewer calories on average each day.
According to the study’s lead author, Hana Kahleova, MD, Ph.D., the calorie reduction and weight loss are likely because the participants who went vegan replaced high-fat, high-cholesterol animal products with plant foods, which are packed with fiber and antioxidants.
In addition to weight loss, results from the study further demonstrated improved health across three key areas: increased metabolism, reduced-fat inside cells, and better insulin sensitivity (how effectively the body converts sugar into energy). All of these markers are key indicators of health and play roles in serious health issues, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Even before this most recent study, many experts have been recommending plant-based diets to improve health. For instance, in 2016, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AAND) recommended vegan, vegetarian, and similar dietary approaches to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, heart disease, and obesity. They state that a vegan diet, in particular, can:
- Reduce diabetes risk by 62%
- Reduce heart disease risk by 29%
- Reduce cancer risk by 18%
Moreover, a low-fat, vegan diet appears to be more effective for weight loss than other approaches. In a study of more than 60,000 participants, vegans had the lowest body mass index (BMI) of 23.6 on average, which falls within the recommended range of 18 to 24.9. Vegetarians had a BMI of 25.7, while nonvegetarians had the highest, at 28.8.
Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet
Completely ousting animal products from your diet all at once may be overwhelming. Instead, you might consider making slow, gradual changes. For instance, you could start with the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and plant-based oils, as well as nuts, legumes, and whole grains. The approach also allows for lean protein and fish, instead of processed or red meat.
You could also start to slowly remove animal products one by one. Some people have success focusing on replacements instead of extractions. For example, you might use sweet potato and black bean filling for tacos instead of ground beef, or make a hearty vegetable chili. Tofu also works as a substitute for many meat dishes. Even if you don’t become a strict vegan or vegetarian, Dr. Kahleova notes that a diet that focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and other whole foods is a good approach to take.
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Many people take supplements regularly to make up for gaps in their diet and to boost their health. Yet, few people know that in addition to the vitamins you see on grocery store shelves, there are also prescription-grade supplements available. Discover the key differences between these two options below.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Supplements
Some people are surprised to find out that OTC supplements aren’t regulated by the government. Oftentimes, these products contain fillers, synthetic forms of vitamins, and reduced concentrations of the main ingredients. Thus, you may have to take several pills a day to meet the recommended dose, which will also lead to taking in higher volumes of additives. And in some cases, even the recommended dose will fail to deliver the intended results, since the vitamins don’t come in their most effective form.
Common fillers found in OTC supplements include dyes, cork, and other unnatural ingredients. In the case of herbs, sometimes the wrong portion of the plant is used. For instance, if the potency lies within the leaves, the manufacturer may include fillers like stems or fruit. Using the incorrect part of the plant – or worse, the wrong species – means that the herbal supplement will likely be ineffective.
Sometimes, OTC vitamins are also provided in the wrong type. Nutrients have different forms, which also have unique absorption rates. For instance, Ferro-C iron supplements comprise ferrous fumarate, which isn’t absorbed well by the digestive system and can even lead to gastrointestinal complications. An amino acid chelate of iron, however, would be better absorbed.
Also, some nutrients perform poorly when prepared in a capsule form, due to oxidation. Thus, you could be taking a daily vitamin that will have virtually no therapeutic effect.
Practitioner-strength supplements, also sometimes referred to as medical-grade or pharmaceutical supplements are made by following the same standards as prescription drugs. They boast superior quality to OTC vitamins and are prescribed in the same way medications would be.
These supplements must meet rigorous standards. For instance, their ingredients list must precisely match those within the actual product. They do not contain harmful toxins and must be absorbed by the body within 45 minutes to be considered medical-grade. Contrast this with OTC vitamins, which often have poor bioavailability.
Whether you’re deficient in a key nutrient or are seeking a supplement to help you manage a preexisting condition or overall health, practitioner supplements are the clear winner in terms of quality and effectiveness.
Stemedix offers 10% off your first order of practitioner-grade supplements available through Metagenics. Visit https://stemedix.metagenics.com/ and discover powerful supplements for your daily regimen. It is important to check with a provider to ensure you are taking the correct supplement and correct dose. Please call 800-531-0831 to find out more today!
The benefits of sufficient, quality sleep are often touted in the medical community. Yet, in our fast-paced world, it often feels as if getting enough shut-eye each evening is more of a luxury than a necessity. Being that several key bodily processes take place during sleep, including restoration and strengthening, slumber should be considered as important as drinking water and taking in nutrients.
While experts are still investigating the science of sleep, what we do know is that sleep allows the body to:
- Replenish energy
- Repair muscles
- Maintain important bodily functions
- Let the brain process new information
Of course, we’re also well aware of what can happen when we’re sleep-deprived. For instance, we lose the ability to focus, react, and control our emotions. This can affect our relationships and even our work lives. Over time, the effects compound: long-term lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of serious health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. It’s also suspected to impair immune system functioning, making you more susceptible to infections.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
The recommended sleep windows vary with age. For instance, while teens generally need eight to ten hours, adults may only need seven to nine. Seniors may benefit from even fewer hours, and might only need to clock seven to eight hours each night.
What Are the Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep?
As soon as you begin getting enough sleep, you may notice immediate benefits such as improved concentration and reduced fatigue. Over time, you could experience long-term benefits, such as:
- Reduced caloric intake: Lack of sleep can interfere with the chemicals that control hunger. Thus, when you’re not well-rested, you may find yourself overeating.
- Controlled inflammation: Sleep loss could cause widespread inflammation, potentially damaging the tissues and cells.
- Improved cognitive function: Better sleep results in increased productivity, better memory, and improved concentration compared to people who are sleep deprived.
- Decreased risk of heart disease: Healthier sleep habits reduce the risk for cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
- Reduced risk of depression: Mental illnesses such as depression often go hand-in-hand with poor sleep. 90% of people with diagnosed depression experience sleep troubles. Getting enough sleep, however, can support mental wellness.
Of course, many people have great intentions when it comes to getting enough sleep, but still, struggle to fall or stay asleep. Here are some ways you can improve your sleep health:
- Avoid any screen time at least an hour before bed, as these lights can cause brain stimulation.
- Skip stimulants such as caffeine too late in the day. Try not to have tea, coffee, caffeinated sodas, or chocolate later than mid-afternoon.
- Maintain the same bedtime every day. While it can be tempting to stay up late and hit snooze on the weekend, establishing a consistent routine will help your body regulate sleep patterns.
Keep in mind that like exercise and a healthy diet, it may take some time to adopt healthy sleep practices. Over time, however, putting in the effort can pay off in the form of better overall health.
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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the umbrella term for inflammation of the digestive tract, which encompasses two conditions: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In ulcerative colitis, the large intestine is affected, while Crohn’s disease can affect any area of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease may also cause abnormal openings, known as fistulas, which are not seen in ulcerative colitis. Both conditions may lead to diarrhea and the need for surgery.
One major aspect of living with IBD is making dietary choices that reduce the risk of a flare-up. While no particular diet has been able to prevent or cure IBD, certain dietary approaches may help control symptoms. Each patient experiences symptoms differently and should work with their healthcare provider to make informed choices, but here are some basic recommendations to consider.
Identify Problem Foods
Sometimes, patients are advised to avoid entire food groups. Yet, since everyone experiences symptoms differently, there’s no need to steer clear of foods unless you know they’ve caused trouble in the past. An effective way to identify trigger foods is to keep a food journal. Eating a variety of foods is important to giving your body an ample supply of nutrients, but if a certain food can be linked to worsening symptoms, it’s likely best to avoid it and find the same nutrients elsewhere.
Try Small, Frequent Meals
Smaller, more frequent meals are often easier to digest, and may therefore be less likely to cause diarrhea. Using this approach is especially beneficial during flare-ups.
Consider a Low-Residue Diet After Flare-Ups
If you’ve recently had a flare-up, a low-residue diet may be easier for your digestive tract to tolerate. Residue refers to food that hasn’t been digested. The objective of a low-residue diet is to reduce the number of daily bowel movements, which will in turn alleviate diarrhea and stomach cramps. This diet minimizes high-fiber foods and instead focuses on refined carbohydrates, cooked potatoes without skin, and ripe bananas.
Get Your Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce oxidative stress and have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help to control symptoms. If you tolerate them well, try to regularly incorporate sources of these foods into your diet, which include mackerel and salmon.
Ease In After a Flare
After a flare-up, it’s a good idea to start with liquids that are gentle on your digestive system, then reintroduce solids slowly. Diluted juices, applesauce, and oatmeal are good starting points. You may then gradually start having chicken or turkey, eggs, pasta or rice, and bread.
During and immediately after flares, your body may only be taking in limited nutrients. If your doctor approves of it, consider taking a supplement to prevent any deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals.
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