What Foods Help Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease?

What Foods Help Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease?

The food you consume can make you healthier or increase the risk of disease. It can cause an imbalance in your gut microbiome that can cause mental issues. Some foods are specifically beneficial to certain parts of the body. They can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. These foods may help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, or reduce inflammation, which reduces the risk factors for heart problems.

Eat your greens to keep your heart healthy.

A big salad before a meal can help get your digestive juices flowing while boosting nutrition. Greens are high in nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. You’ll protect your arteries with the vitamin K they contain. Greens, particularly spinach, bok choy, and several types of lettuce are high in nitrates. Unlike those in processed meats, these convert to nitric oxide, essential for heart health. Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure, makes arteries more flexible, and improves how the blood vessel lining functions. Increasing your leafy green vegetable intake could reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 16%.

Berries should be part of your meal.

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are jam-packed with nutrients that play a central role in heart health. Add berries and nuts to yogurt or freeze them and make a traditional palate cleanser that’s refreshing and light. Berries contain antioxidants that protect the heart from inflammation and oxidative stress. If you have insulin resistance or high bad cholesterol levels, both of which can cause heart disease, one study showed eating berries for four weeks can improve both conditions. Consuming them can lower systolic blood pressure and inflammation markers.

Choose healthy fat for a healthy heart.

People seem to fear fat, but not all fat is bad. Your body needs fat for many processes, including weight loss. Fatty fish, such as salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect the heart and prevent arrhythmias. Walnuts also provide healthy fat in the form of linoleic acid—a type of omega-3 fatty acid—and fiber that reduces inflammation, plus other nutrients. Sprinkle some on your salad or in yogurt with fresh berries to increase heart health. Avocados contain monounsaturated fat. These are linked to improved cholesterol levels to improve heart health.

  • Dark chocolate that contains 70% or more cocoa has flavonoids and other antioxidants. It can help improve blood flow to the heart, which lowers blood pressure. It can also prevent cell damage and aid in reducing clotting.
  • The vitamin D from sunshine is good for the heart, but if you can’t get enough sun exposure, eat food like beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and products fortified with vitamin D.
  • Liver and other organ meats such as beef heart, are high in CoQ10. CoQ10 reduces the risk of heart failure and helps lower high blood pressure.
  • Food high in magnesium, such as spinach, avocados, and dark chocolate, help prevent irregular heartbeat. Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli are high in folic acid which reduces the risk of heart disease by 20%.

For more information, contact us today at LIV Fitness

Do Granola Bars Cause Inflammation?

Do Granola Bars Cause Inflammation?

The people of Livermore, CA, have access to some great local produce and stores packed with healthy foods, so you’d think it would be easy to eat the foods that can keep you fit. That’s not necessarily true. The food is available, but finding the right food can be quite confusing. You might eat certain food because you think it’s wholesome, like granola bars. You’d be wrong. They have a downside and it’s inflammation.

Inflammation is necessary for a healthy body, but you can get “too much of a good thing.”

Acute inflammation helps your body heal. It causes a fever that activates your body’s immune system and can destroy invading bacteria and viruses. It helps you stay healthy. However, chronic inflammation is the opposite side of the coin. Chronic inflammation can lead to serious conditions, such as stroke, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes. The food you eat can increase chronic inflammation or fight it.

Food with added sugar can increase inflammation.

Granola bars fit that description. A healthy level of sugar intake is about 6 teaspoons per day, but the average diet in America has about 17 teaspoons a day. Granola bars fit that description. If you consume too much sugar at one time, it can lead to insulin resistance which causes chronic inflammation. Also, protein and fat combine with sugar in the blood, creating AGEs—Advanced Glycation End Products. They cause inflammation. A third way is that sugar makes the gut more permeable. That makes it easy for bacteria and inflammatory bits to enter the blood causing inflammation. Finally, sugar increases bad cholesterol—LDL—which ultimately leads to inflammation.

Commercial granola bars contain trans fats.

Trans fats can cause inflammation. There was a lot of talk about trans fats and most people believe they were removed or at least labeled on food products. That’s not always true. If a product contains less than half a gram, the government doesn’t require the company to list it on the label, even if it’s very close to half a gram. You have to look at the ingredients to find them. If the list contains partially hydrogenated oil, there are trans fats in it.

  • Granola bars also contain a high amount of omega 6. There’s a fine balance between omega-3 and omega-6. Too many omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation. Granola bars increase the imbalance.
  • Commercial granola bars contain high amounts of refined carbohydrates. Like sugar, they break down quickly and enter the bloodstream, spiking blood sugar levels. As your body struggles to remove the sugar, it stimulates inflammation.
  • The soft alternatives to granola bars with fruit in the center may be worse than granola bars, especially those with healthier ingredients. They’re high in sugar and increase blood glucose levels rapidly.
  • Not all granola bars are alike. Look for ones where the saturated level is lower than 20%. Find ones that have at least five grams of fiber, protein, and unsaturated fat. Identify the sugar. If it is from date paste or fruit, it’s okay.

For more information, contact us today at LIV Fitness

What Is Food Flexibility?

What Is Food Flexibility?

Do you miss those days when you could eat your favorite food and not feel bad? You can still do that and avoid the programmed mentality the diet culture has created. Food flexibility is based on listening to your body. It takes the bad and good labels away from food and turns it back to just plain food, sustenance for the body that you can enjoy. It also helps prevent the cycles of deprivation and binging or the defeat you feel when you’ve eaten a “forbidden” food.

The first step in developing food flexibility is understanding your internal food rules.

You may not even realize that you’ve created food rules or know where you developed those ideas once you do. Every time you eat, become aware of your self-talk. That will lead you to your internal food rules. Do these have power over you and limit your enjoyment of food? Do you ever go against them? If so, how do you feel when you do? Once you know the rules, give yourself permission to break them.

Learn to eat intuitively.

Once you understand the rules you’ve internalized and given yourself permission to break them, you need to learn to eat intuitively, accepting that foods aren’t good or bad. Intuitive eating means listening to your body. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat a specific food or eat at certain times. You might feel energetic after a certain type of meal or wake up feeling bloated after eating a big snack at night. Look for the foods and eating patterns that make you feel your best.

Food flexibility focuses on feeling good, listening to your body, and avoiding restriction.

Learning to eat healthier is part of food flexibility. It’s all about enjoying the food you eat and making smarter choices. When you permit yourself to eat the food you crave or listen to your body when you do, you won’t feel denied the pleasure of consuming it. You also won’t feel the shame that you would otherwise feel when eating food previously restricted. Taking the negative emotions out of food allows you to increase the pleasure, which can prevent overeating later.

  • Why does food flexibility work? Any type of restriction will increase the desire for the food restricted. Often one bite is enough to satisfy that desire, especially if you’re in tune with your body.
  • If you’re uncomfortable eating without rules, identify what you like about a certain food that was previously restricted. Look for the same quality in other, healthier options. The crunch from pretzels can be replaced with crisp celery.
  • Sometimes, food flexibility has roadblocks. If you’re constantly eating food with added sugar, your body may tell you to eat more. Sugar is addictive. The more you eat, the more you need to get the sweet flavor.
  • Healthy eating is all about being flexible but making smarter decisions when you do eat. However, if you’re really craving something unhealthy, you can eat it, and it’s not the end of the world or your plan of healthy eating.

For more information, contact us today at LIV Fitness

How To Lose Weight On A Low Carb Diet

How To Lose Weight On A Low Carb Diet

Each person has different needs and our programs at LIV Fitness reflect that. We offer nutritional counseling for people who want to lose weight with a wide variety of approaches. A low carb diet is one of those ways. Knowing the healthiest types of carbs to eat is key to healthy weight loss. Whole food should be part of every type of diet. The first step to a healthy low carb diet is eliminating highly processed food that has added sugar.

Besides weight loss, the health benefits of a low carb diet make it popular.

A low carbohydrate diet can help regulate cholesterol levels. It can lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase the “good” HDL levels. It also improves triglyceride levels. Stabilizing blood sugar levels is another benefit of a low carb diet. Stabilizing blood sugar also reduces high insulin levels, which can cause abdominal fat and insulin resistance. The increased protein and healthy fat in a low carb diet can help you feel fuller longer, so you won’t eat as much. Protein can also aid in boosting your metabolism.

Low carb diets don’t cut out all carbs but change the percentages of macronutrients.

Carbs are a macronutrient, just as proteins and fats are. A low carb diet simply reduces the amount of calories that come from carbs and increases the number of calories from protein. Traditional low carb diets are structured so 30 % of calories come from protein, 40 % from carbohydrates, and 30 % from fats. The average American diet contains 50 % of calories from carbohydrates, 15 % from protein, and 35% from fat—mostly unhealthy fat. The concept is that reducing carbs forces the body to break down fat to use for energy, rather than depending on glucose.

The key to success and a healthy low carb diet is the type of carb you consume.

You won’t get sick by cutting out pasta, white bread, and candy bars, but it can affect your health if you cut out fruit and vegetables. The real killer is food with added sugar that spikes blood sugar, since fruit and vegetables that are high in sugar are also high in fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar and prevents spiking. Giving up the added sugar is the biggest struggle you’ll face on the low carb diet, since sugar is addictive. By following a healthy diet loaded with nutrients, not only will you lose weight, but you’ll also gain energy.

  • Not everyone should be on a low carb diet. Low carb diets were first used in the 20s to help prevent seizures. It can help some people but isn’t the best for everyone. Always check with your health care professional first before starting any special diet.
  • Just because you can eat platefuls of bacon, it doesn’t mean you should. Some food on a low carb diet can affect your health if consumed in large amounts. Be sensible. When choosing animal products, choose those from pastured animals that are higher in omega-3 and CLA.
  • Vegetables may have carbs, but they’re complex carbs, some of which are fiber that can’t be digested. They take longer to digest, so they don’t spike blood sugar levels.
  • The basic concept of a healthy low carb diet is to change eating habits to ones that include food that’s beneficial to the body.

For more information, contact us today at LIV Fitness