Simple Ways to Make Your Recipes Healthier

By Andra Picincu

Healthy eating is anything but boring. Whether you’re looking to cut calories or clean up your diet, it’s no need sacrifice flavor.

With some creativity, you can enjoy delicious meals and still keep fit. The key is to eliminate sugar, white flour, and other calorie-laden ingredients. How you cook your food matters too.

Need inspiration? Check out these simple ways to make your recipes healthier – and more flavorful:

Ditch the Sugar

Craving chocolate cake, ice cream, or pudding? No problem! Recreate your favorite recipes using stevia instead of sugar. Stevia is a natural sweetener that has no side effects and can be used in most dishes. Alternatively, you can opt for cinnamon, vanilla essence, or flavored protein powder.

Beware that honey, pureed fruits, juice concentrate, and other sweeteners are loaded with fructose, which is just another form of sugar. Even though it’s natural, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Researchers have linked fructose to weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, liver diseases, and even cancer.

Cook without White Flour

White flour has little or no fiber, and boasts a high glycemic index. This means that whenever you eat something made with flour, your blood sugar levels will go through the roof.

Since most desserts call for white flour, you need a healthier substitute. Almond flour, coconut flour, whole wheat flour, and flax meal are all an excellent choice.

For single-serving deserts, use protein powder instead of flour. One or two scoops will do the trick! Another option is Konjac flour, which has a lot of fiber and no carbs.

Add Greek Yogurt to Your List

Loaded with protein, Greek yogurt can replace sour cream, mayo, and vegetable oil in most recipes. It also makes a great addition to sauces and salad dressing. Plus, you’ll get just as much creaminess as you’d get with sour cream but without the extra calories and fats.

For instance, you can make a delicious ice cream using Greek yogurt, frozen berries, stevia, and cocoa powder or peanut butter. Or you can mix yogurt with garlic, parsley, sea salt, and pepper for a creamy sauce that goes well in salads and casseroles.

Say No to Fried Foods

Without a doubt, fried dishes taste amazing, but the risks are simply not worth. Frying increases the calorie content and glycemic index of food while releasing toxins that affect your health.

For instance, one serving of deep-fried cod fillet boasts 12 grams of fat and 232 calories. The same amount of baked fish has only one gram of fat and 105 calories. Now you do the math!

Bake, grill, roast, or steam your favorite foods so you can enjoy the flavor without the guilt!

How Does Stress Affect Your Health?

stress

By Andra Picincu.

Struggling with pain and aches? Feeling moody and low on energy? Or perhaps you’re having trouble sleeping at night? These signs might indicate that your stress levels are sky high.

Even though a little stress is normal, chronic stress can wreak havoc on your health. It messes up your hormones, affects your mood, and slows your metabolism.

Acute vs. Chronic Stress: What’s the Difference?

A staggering 77 percent of Americans experience physical symptoms due to stress. About 33 percent say they are struggling with extreme stress on a constant basis. Job pressure, financial problems, poor health, and relationship issues are often the culprits.

Stress is your body’s natural reaction to external threats. For instance, when you’re stuck in traffic or rushing to work, your cortisol and adrenaline levels go up. Your heart beats faster and you’re sweating more than usual.

As soon as you arrive at the destination, stress symptoms subside and your hormone levels return to normal. In this case, we’re talking about acute stress. This chemical reaction is perfectly normal and can be beneficial as it keeps you alert and motivated.

Chronic stress is a whole different story. It usually occurs after a trauma or results from a situation that has not been solved for months or years. For example, you may experience chronic stress if you’re constantly worried about money or work.

With chronic stress, your body is in alert mode 27/7. This means that your cortisol levels are high day and night, which in turn, affects mental and physical health. It can even trigger chronic disorders or worsen their symptoms.

 

The Dangers of Chronic Stress

The longer the stress lasts, the more it affects your mind and body. It drains your energy, leaves you fatigued, and weakens your immune system. Furthermore, cortisol – the stress hormone – promotes fat storage and lowers testosterone levels, leading to weight gain and muscle loss.

Researchers have linked chronic stress to a myriad of problems, from anxiety and depression to heart disease. According to a nine-year study, women who were constantly stressed experienced insomnia and poor sleep. Another study has found that stress affects our food choices and appetite, causing us to eat more and crave unhealthy foods.

In the long run, your risk of diabetes, stroke, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease may increase because of stress. The sooner you do something about it, the better. Make health a priority and squeeze more “me” time into your routine. Learn to relax, get more rest, and focus on the things that make you happy.

Does One Fruit a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?

By Andra Picincu

Ever wonder why health experts recommend eating fruits every day? What’s so special about these foods anyway? After all, vegetables, legumes, and nuts are loaded with nutrition too.

Well, fruits contain phytonutrients that are not found in other foods. Plus, they’re higher in vitamins than most veggies. Rich in fiber, they slow sugar absorption into your bloodstream and boost your energy levels.

Need more proof? Let’s see why fruits are so good for you!

How Do Fruits Help?

Bananas, apples, berries, oranges, and other fruits are a nutrition powerhouse. They provide large amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with cancer-fighting properties. Additionally, they’re natural and low in calories. The only exception is dried fruit, which boasts more sugar than varieties.

Less than 21 percent of adults consume enough fruits on a daily basis. This puts them at risk for nutrient deficiencies, sluggish digestion, and metabolic disorders.

The fiber in fruits keeps your digestive system running smoothly and prevents insulin spikes. These foods also contain powerful antioxidants that scavenge oxidative stress, slow down aging, and inhibit tumor growth.

Grapefruit, for instance, has been found to prevent kidney stones and lower cholesterol levels. It also promotes satiety and helps with weight loss.

Athletes and active individuals eat bananas after training to restore their electrolyte levels and recover faster from exercise. Rich in potassium and complex carbs, these fruits improve glucose control and support cardiovascular health.

Mangos contain zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that promotes eye health and may prevent macular degeneration. This delicious fruit is also high in polyphenols that protect against leukemia, breast, lung, and colon cancers.

How to Add More Fruits to Your Diet

Now that you know the benefits of eating fruits, you might wonder how to include them in your diet. Perhaps you’re not crazy about their flavor. Or maybe you don’t have time to snack on fruits all day long.

The key is to be creative. Replace your go-to snacks with a serving of berries, a banana, or an orange. Add fruits to your favorite recipes, whether it’s cake, pie, or homemade ice cream. Since they’re naturally sweet, they can replace sugar in most desserts.

Commit yourself to eating fruits every day. If you’re on a day, opt for low-sugar varieties like blueberries, strawberries, or avocado.

Add fruits to oatmeal, Greek yogurt, pancakes, muffins, and other breakfast recipes. Smoothies and fruit purees are a healthy choice too as long as you prepare them yourself. These small changes can go a long way toward better health!

Best Exercises to Stay Fit On-the-Go

By Andra Picincu.

Want to keep fit but you’re short on time? Luckily, you don’t need a gym membership to stay in shape. From burpees and plank jacks to push-ups, there are dozens of exercises that require no equipment. All it takes is some discipline and willpower.

Believe it or not, bodyweight workouts are just as effective as traditional gym routines. Consistency is the key. Certain moves, such as burpees and walking lunges, hit nearly every muscle and skyrocket your heart rate. Plus, you can work out at home, at the office, or outdoors.

Ready to get active? Here are the best exercises to stay fit on the go:

Push-Ups

The humble push-up provides a full body workout. It’s one of the most complex movements out there, leading to greater strength, power, and endurance. It engages your back, chest, arms, and core muscles while burning fat.

Depending on the muscles targeted, try different push-up variations. The diamond push-up, for instance, is one of the best triceps exercises. Pike push-ups hit your shoulders and improve your balance.

Mountain Climbers

The mountain climber builds core strength and works your whole body from head to toe. It’s ideal for both cardio and resistance training, and makes a great choice for HIIT routines.

For greater core activation, try the mountain climber twist. This version engages your oblique’s and burns more calories. The faster you move, the higher your energy expenditure.

Plank Jacks

Due to its intense nature, the plank jack has emerged as one of the best cardio bodyweight exercises. It hits your core, builds upper body strength, and elevates your heart rate. Every muscle in the body works to maintain your balance.

To burn more calories and fat, use this exercise as part of your tabata or HIIT routine. For instance, you can do plank jacks for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and start all over. A typical tabata workout will only last four minutes and rev up your metabolism for hours.

Rope Jumping

Contrary to popular belief, rope jumping isn’t just for toddlers. In fact, pro athletes and bodybuilders do this exercise regularly to warm up or as a workout finisher. Even jumping at a moderate speed will torch about 16 calories per minute, which is more than you’ll burn when jogging or cycling.

This simple yet challenging exercise builds agility and strength, improves your coordination, and boosts cardiovascular fitness. Plus, it keeps your bones strong and increases your metabolism.

These are just a few of the many bodyweight exercises you can do anytime, anywhere. Now you have no excuse to skip your workout!

5 Surprising Benefits of Going Gluten-Free

By Andra Picincu

The gluten-free craze has taken the world by storm. More and more people are switching to gluten-free foods to enjoy better health and well-being. Even those who don’t have Celiac disease can benefit from making this change.

Gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and other grains, has been linked to digestive distress and allergic reactions. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity affects as much as 13 percent of the world’s population. Millions of people are allergic or sensitive to this protein without even realizing it.

The question is: should you give you up gluten for good? Let’s take a look at some surprising benefits of going gluten-free:

Increased Energy

Do you feel tired or sluggish after eating bread, cake, cookies, and other similar foods? Gluten might be the culprit!

This protein damages the lining of the small intestine, causing leaky gut syndrome. Over time, your body becomes less efficient at digesting and breaking down certain nutrients like zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iron.

People with celiac disease, for instance, are at higher risk for iron deficiency anemia, which affects their health and energy levels.

Better Digestion

Gluten causes bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and other digestive problems. Even healthy individuals can experience these issues.

In a clinical trial, subjects with non-celiac gluten sensitivity reported fatigue, bloating, and changes in bowel habits after eating gluten every day for six weeks.

Lower Risk of Cancer

Research indicates that gluten may increase the risk of stomach cancer in people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. This protein has been also linked to a rare form of lymphoma, which affects the white blood cells.

Since gluten damages the GI tract and inhibits nutrient absorption, it may contribute to cancer. If your body doesn’t receive the vitamins and minerals needed to fight disease, its immune system becomes weaker.

Reduced Inflammation

This protein displays inflammatory properties. Over time, it may lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn, puts you at risk for heart disease, gout, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.

Studies have found that going gluten-free may decrease the levels of inflammatory markers and improve insulin response. If you suffer from chronic pain, eczema, psoriasis, or arthritis, ditch this ingredient from your daily meals. The benefits are immediate.

IBS Relief

As much as 25 percent of Americans are struggling with irritable bowel syndrome. If you’re one of them, eliminate gluten from your diet. The grains containing this protein are also rich in oligosaccharides, which affect digestion and cause bloating.

Once you go gluten-free, you’ll feel a lot better. Studies confirm that IBS symptoms can be easily managed simply by removing this ingredient.

There are many other benefits associated with a gluten-free diet. Improved mental focus, weight loss, and stronger immunity are just a few to mention. Try it yourself – it’s one of the best things you can do for your health!

The Importance of Sleep

By Dr. Sannia Iqbal

Just like exercise is an integral part of a healthy life, so is the sleep. While we always come across recommendations that stress the importance of an active lifestyle, we somewhere forget that an adequate sleep is also necessary to maintain a good health. About 20-40% of adults face insomnia at some point of their lives. 4 out of 5 people have complaint of inadequate sleep.
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Discover the Surprising Health Benefits of Tea

By Andra Picincu
How often do you drink tea? Is it daily, once a week, or just occasionally? If you can’t remember the last time you’ve had a cup of tea, you’re losing out on the health benefits.

This beverage has the power to boost your immune system, increase your energy, and keep stress at bay. Plus, it promotes a good night’s sleep and supports mental well-being.

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