BATTLE OF THE BUTTERS: GHEE VS BUTTER

Gee, I wonder if ghee is better for me? 😉

With recent health trends, there has been a large focus on fats. High-fat diets that have yielded positive results for many, such as the keto diet, have brought a huge spotlight to the debate of ghee versus butter. Whereas 10 years ago, mentioning the word “saturated fat” had people running for the hills. With all the dieting trends and constantly changing information and recommendations, it is hard to really know what is “good” and what is “bad.” Some sources will tell you to stay away from all saturated fats and others believe that it is not so simple, such as the case of coconut oil, that some saturated fats may be beneficial to our health.

What is Ghee?

 

Ghee is butter that has been heated to separate the milk solids from the liquid fat, which is then removed and the remaining product is ghee.

History of Ghee

 

Although ghee has more recently taken the spotlight, it has been used for thousands of years. Ghee comes from ancient Indian medicinal practices, such as Ayurveda, an Indian science dating back roughly 5,000 years. Ayurveda believes ghee promotes purification, both mental and physical, through its ability to cleanse.

Benefits of Ghee


 

1. High Smoke Point for Cooking

 

Ghee has a noticeably higher smoke point compared to butter. Butter will start to smoke at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas ghee will not start to smoke until it reaches about 485 degrees Fahrenheit. Since ghee does not burn as easily as butter, it is perfect for frying and sautéing foods. Rice bran oil, refined safflower oil and avocado oil are the only oils with a higher smoke point than ghee.
 

2. Safety in Cooking

 

Since ghee has such a high smoke point, it releases less acrylamide, a chemical that forms when starchy foods are prepared with oils at extremely high temperatures. Though unclear about its effects on humans, acrylamide has been found to increase risk of cancer in lab animals.
 

3. More Tolerable for Those with Lactose Intolerance

 
Ghee is prepared by heating butter to extremely high temperatures, which then separates the milk products from the liquid oil, which are then filtered out. Since most of the lactose and casein are filtered out of ghee, it is generally more tolerable for those who have sensitivities to dairy. If one has a severe allergy to dairy it is advised that they stay away from ghee, as ghee is not guaranteed 100% dairy-free.
 

4. Increases Nutrient Absorption

 
Ghee will help increase your uptake of important fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, and K, which need to be accompanied by a fat molecule to be absorbed into the body.
 

5. Improves digestion

 
Ghee can be beneficial for those with digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut, and Crohn’s disease. When the digestive system is in distress, it does not absorb the nutrients needed. Ghee can help make that process a little easier and smoother for the body. Ghee is also a great source of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that plays a key role in the gut health. Butyrate helps to maintain gut-barrier function, essentially lining the guy and reducing inflammation. Butyrate is also produced by the gut when fiber is consumed and the cells of the colon use butyrate as their main fuel source. Reducing pain and improving peristalsis, the contraction of muscles propelling food through the digestive tract, may lead to relief from constipation and/or pain during bowel movements. A healthy digestive system is vital to healthy functioning of many of the other systems in the body.

Who is the Winner? Ghee vs Butter?

 
The debate between ghee and butter is a hard one because ghee technically is butter. Butter has a lower smoke point and when cooking at high temperatures, ghee would be the best option to prevent any oxidation and formation of free radicals. Those with sensitivities or intolerances to dairy generally tolerate ghee more than butter, since much of the milk products are filtered out. Ghee contains almost twice the amount of short and medium chain fatty acids as butter. These shorter chain fatty acids are metabolized easier by the body and are not associated with the risk of heart disease. Lastly, the taste is a little different and this is purely personal preference. The flavor of ghee is a lot more intense than butter. Where butter is creamy and sweet, ghee is deep and rich in flavor. So, with all of this information, ghee has a bit of an advantage over butter.

Where to Find Ghee?

 
Ghee is becoming more and more common in traditional grocery stores, tending to be located near the other oils. Ghee is not often refrigerated in the grocery store, so head over to the section with coconut oil and olive oil, and ghee will be close by. Due to the recent increase in popularity of ghee, the price point tends to be a little on the high side. Heading to a more traditional Indian or Fijian foods store will result in the best bang for your buck when it comes to buying ghee. If neither of those options suit you, you can always buy it online. I definitely recommend you make sure that the ghee is made from grass-fed cows only, such as Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee, which is made from pasture-raised cows.

How to Cook with Ghee

 
Ghee is versatile and since it tastes similarly to butter, it can be a wonderful butter substitute. The higher smoke point actually makes ghee a little more favorable to cook with, rendering it a popular choice when it comes to sautéing or frying foods. Ghee can be used in a variety of ways: Melted over popcorn to provide flavor, scrambled into eggs to prevent sticking, mixed into mashed potatoes…. Ghee adds a richer and nuttier butter flavor, making it wonderful for dishes with high flavor profiles.

Conclusion

 

Since the nutritional profiles of both ghee and butter are virtually the same in the calorie and fat categories, I don’t think one has a very large advantage over the other. However, for those with lactose intolerance, ghee has an advantage as it is generally tolerated more in those individuals. So, those with dairy intolerances or allergies should choose ghee over butter. Lastly, the high smoke point of ghee compared to butter makes it a better choice for cooking at high temperatures.

 
 
Love and Health,

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SELENIUM FOR A HEALTHY THYROID: TOP 5 SELENIUM-RICH FOODS

SELENIUM FOR A HEALTHY THYROID: TOP 5 SELENIUM-RICH FOODS

What if I told you that selenium is SUPER important for your health? What if I told you that selenium might play a role in cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and thyroid disease? Yep… But let’s focus on the thyroid gland.

Selenium is an essential mineral that’s naturally found in some of the foods we eat. It’s also added to foods to fortify them, and can also be taken as a dietary supplement.

A healthy thyroid gland is important because it regulates metabolism and controls growth and development in the body.

Selenium simply helps thyroid function by:

  • Regulating thyroid hormone production
  • Protecting the thyroid against oxidative damage
  •  
    In addition, selenium an extremely powerful antioxidant. So, it may help your body ward off chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

    Being low in selenium is certainly not a good thing and your thyroid can ultimately suffer, which means you suffer! In fact, your thyroid is the organ that has the highest concentration of selenium in the body.

    Being selenium deficient may lead to:

  • An enlarged thyroid (goiter)
  • Infertility
  • Weight Gain
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weak immune system
  • Brain fog or the inability to think/concentrate
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hypothyroidism (An underactive thyroid)
  • Autoimmune Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland)

     
    Obviously, you don’t want any of those problems, my friend.

    So here are 5 selenium-rich foods that you should consider incorporating in your diet:
     

    1. Brazil Nuts

     
    Probably the best source of selenium is Brazil nuts. One ounce (about 6 to 8 nuts) contains about 544 mcg of this essential nutrient. Because they are so high in selenium, you should stick to only about a handful a week because it is possible to get too much selenium into your body, which can cause problems.
     


     

    2. Yellowfin Tuna

     
    If you never had Yellowfin tuna, maybe it’s time to add it to your grocery list. 3 ounces of this fish contains about 92 mcg of selenium. Other seafood sources that are selenium-rich include: clams, oysters, shrimp, salmon, halibut, sardines, and crab.
     


     

    3. Grains

     
    What do whole-grain pasta and other products have in common? They are foods rich in selenium. 1 cup of long-grain brown rice contains about 19mcg of selenium.
     


     

    4. Pork Products

     
    Pork also provides a high amount of selenium. A 3oz serving of pork provides about 42 mcg.
     


     

    5. Beef

     
    How much selenium you get from beef depends on the cut. For instance, a serving of ground beef offers 18 mcg while a serving of bottom round steak delivers 38 mcg. That’s a good reminder to cut back on processed foods such as ground beef and stick to whole cuts.

    But don’t just limit yourself to those 5 foods. There are many more selenium-rich foods such as:
     

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Mushrooms
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach
  • Lentils
  • Cashews
  • Bananas
  • How much selenium do I need per day?

     
    Here’s what the National Institutes of Health say:
     

    Are you taking a selenium supplement?

     
    There are two types of selenium:

    Inorganic selenium (selenate and selenite), found in soil that plants use to convert into organic selium.

    Organic selenium (selenomethionine and selenocysteine), found mostly in animal tissue.

    The best type of selenium supplement is one containing selenomethionine, as research shows that it is better absorbed than other types.

     
     
    Love and Health,

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    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

    THYROID HEALTH 101

    THYROID HEALTH 101

    Sometimes it seems as women our lives revolve around our hormones. We have to deal with the ups and down of hormone imbalance, menstruation and then menopause — how unfair is that? Who’s calling the shots around here? With its small butterfly shape, the thyroid might seem like a cute little harmless gland, but it’s the one making the decisions on your metabolic hormones and it’s time to start paying attention to it.
     


     
    Located in the front of your neck just below the larynx (Adam’s apple), this little gland plays a role in nearly every body system, including the heart, nervous system, bone maintenance, GI health and metabolism. It is responsible for the production of three important hormones that influence your metabolism: thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3) and calcitonin.

    THYROID HORMONES

     

    The core thyroid hormones are T4 and T3, and proper balance between the two is essential. They dictate your basal metabolic rate, which is the rate at which your body uses energy for its most basic functions, like breathing and maintaining its core temperature. The most abundant hormone released from the thyroid gland is T4 and then about a third of that is converted to T3 every single day. Calcitonin, as the name suggests, is an important player in calcium and bone metabolism, a status we as women cannot ignore. Especially as we age, a combination of a thyroid disorder plus falling levels of estrogen from menopause are a brittle bones disaster waiting to happen.

    THE ROLE OF THE PITUITARY GLAND

     

    Everyone knows that partnership is essential to success. Just think of where your partner would be without you! This is why the thyroid gland works closely with the pituitary gland, a tiny pea-sized organ located at the base of the brain, to make balance happen in your body. Think of the pituitary gland as the thyroid gland’s personal assistant, always giving feedback on the status of thyroid hormones in the body. When thyroid hormones are low, the pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to signal the thyroid to make and release more hormones (T4, T3). The partnership continues, with the pituitary gland being regulated by the hypothalamus, a small region of the brain that plays a crucial role in many important functions. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland with a hormone called TSH Releasing Hormones (TRH). These three glands work together to find a hormone equilibrium in your body.
     


     
    Equilibrium is an important aspect of every part of our lives, and the thyroid is no exception. When the balance of hormones is off, it can cause a cascading effect, throwing off many of our body systems.

    Thyroid dysfunction is very common and an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of it. Undiagnosed thyroid disease can increase your risk of heart disease, weight changes, osteoporosis, and can also affect fertility.
     


     
    There are two scenarios for thyroid hormone imbalance: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Let’s take a closer look at each.

    HYPERTHYROIDISM (OVERACTIVE)

     

    Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid is overactive making and releasing an overabundance of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone is not a good thing. The side effects include:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Heat intolerance
  • Heart palpitations
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  •  
    Graves Disease. Hyperthyroidism is less common than hypothyroidism and affects around 1.2% of Americans. Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, contributing to around 50% to 80% of all hyperthyroid cases. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body attacks its own cells and tissues because they are accidentally seen as foreign invaders. In the case of Graves’ disease, there is an overproduction of TSH receptor antibodies. These antibodies stimulate the release of thyroid hormones along with the growth of the thyroid gland.
     


     
    Around 30% of people with Graves’ disease have an eye condition called Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which causes their eyes to protrude or “bulge.” This is caused by inflammation that affects the muscles and other tissues around the eyes.
     

    Risk factors for Graves’ disease include:

     

  • Having another autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.
  • A family history of Graves’ disease, as there may be a genetic risk factor.
  • Being female, as women are more likely than men to develop Graves’ disease.
  • Age, as Graves’ disease usually develops between 30-50 years of age.
  • Tobacco us, which disrupts the immune system.
  • Pregnancy or recent childbirth.
  • Chronic stress or illness.
  •  

    There are three main treatment options for an overactive thyroid, which include:

     

  • Radioiodine therapy
  • Medications
  • thyroid surgery
  •  

    Untreated hyperthyroidism can be dangerous. Complications can include:

     
    Heart problems. Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to dangerous heart rhythm disorders and heart failure.

    Thyroid storm. If hyperthyroidism is severe and left untreated, you are at risk for a complication called thyroid storm, which is not common but can happen and often results in death. Symptoms include confusion and high temperature (often over 40 °C/104 °F), and is usually triggered by an infection or other illness.

    Brittle bones. Untreated hyperthyroidism can also lead to osteoporosis, since the thyroid gland is responsible for making calcitonin, a hormone involved in bone growth and maintenance.

    HYPOTHYROIDISM (UNDERACTIVE THYROID)

     
    Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is underactive, not making and releasing enough thyroid hormones. The lack of thyroid hormones slows down metabolism which can lead to a myriad of symptoms including:
     

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Low pulse
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight to moderate weight gain
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle and joint paint
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Low fertility
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  •  
    As if we didn’t have enough going on after having a baby, postpartum thyroiditis is a common cause of hypothyroidism. It is observed in the first year following childbirth. Fortunately, about 70% of women with postpartum thyroiditis are back to balanced thyroid function within a year of childbirth.

    Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks thyroid cells, producing inflammation in the thyroid gland and slowing down production of thyroid hormones. It most commonly affects middle-aged women but can also occur in younger women, men of all ages, and children.

    THYROID GOITER

     
    You should not be able to see your thyroid or feel it. If you do see a lump in your neck around the area where your thyroid gland is located, you could have a goiter. Enlargement of the thyroid gland is referred to as a goiter and can be another indication of a thyroid disorder. Growth of the thyroid can result in a hormone imbalance. Sometimes the whole thyroid may grow while other times singular nodules can become enlarged, causing them to either make too much or too little thyroid hormones.
     


     
    Nodules that make more hormones than needed are called “hot” nodules, while those that don’t make enough are called “cold” nodules. Usually a change in the size of the thyroid is benign but should be checked by a doctor to rule out cancer.

    GENETICS AND NUTRITION

     
    Genetics play a big role in your risk for thyroid dysfunction, and research suggests that up to 67% of circulating thyroid hormone is genetically determined. People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often have family members who have thyroid disease or other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis.

    Just as it is with all disease, nutrition is another key component of thyroid function. These two variables work together to either increase or decrease your risk of thyroid disease.
     

    Goitrogens:

     
    Legumes, soy and some cruciferous and root vegetables have naturally occurring elements called goitrogens. This means they release a bioactive compound called goitrin, which can reduce T4 absorption and perpetuate autoimmune thyroid disease. Consuming high amounts of goitrogens may have an impact on your thyroid by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, lose their goitrogenic effect through cooking, so it’s best to steam, cook, or ferment them before eating them.
     


     

    Iodine:

     
    Dietary iodine balance is incredibly important to thyroid health. A deficiency or overabundance can both lead to thyroiditis in people with genetic susceptibility. Iodine is an essential building block in the production of T4 and T3. As our bodies cannot produce iodine, it needs to come from your diet. For proper production of T4 and T3, your body needs about 100 micrograms of iodide every day. Most Western diets are abundant in iodine due to iodized salt. Other sources of iodine include seafood, dairy products, and products made from grains.
     


     

    Fat:

     
    Dietary fat influences the release of TSH from the pituitary gland. Optimal communication between the thyroid and pituitary gland is important for healthy hormone balance. Animal studies have shown protective effects on the thyroid from a diet higher in unsaturated fats and negative effects on the thyroid from a diet high in saturated fats. Further, omega 6 fatty acids may have a stimulating effect on thyroid function. A few wonderful sources of essential fatty acids include dark leafy greens, chia seeds and fatty fish such as salmon and albacore tuna.
     


     

    Vitamins B12 and D:

     
    Vitamins B12 and D both have a strong tie to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, while also affect bone health. The sun is your best source of vitamin D and it is suggested that around 15 minutes per day of sun exposure (without sunscreen) provides most people with an adequate amount of vitamin D production. Vitamin D can also be incorporated into your diet, although it can be hard to get enough that way. Some good dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, dairy, eggs and mushrooms.

    Vitamin B12 was found to be low in around 40% of people with a low functioning thyroid. Vitamin B12 is a common deficiency in the United States and research suggests that around 39% of Americans have B12 levels in the “low normal” range. The most abundant source of B12 comes from shellfish, organ meat, and dairy, but can also be found in fortified cereals. Vitamin B12 is available as a supplement.

    Selenium:

     
    Recent research has recognized selenium as an essential element in healthy thyroid function. Almost all the selenium in the body is contained in the thyroid and a deficiency can stimulate the development of autoimmune thyroid disease. Selenium supplementation in this type of thyroid dysfunction has shown promise as a treatment for thyroid disorders. Some foods naturally rich in selenium include pasture-raised eggs, brazil nuts, and shellfish. You can also take a selenium supplement.
     


     

    Antioxidants:

     
    Inflammation and oxidative stress work hand-in-hand to negatively impact health. An imbalance in thyroid hormones has been shown to increase oxidative stress, which leads to a decrease in antioxidants, which protect against tissue damage in the body. Reduced glutathione, also called GSH, the “master antioxidant” naturally found in the body, is a cofactor for antioxidant enzymes that help convert T4 to T3. Also involved in the process is Vitamin E, a strong antioxidant. Oxidative stress and inflammation have both been shown to be precursors to chronic disease. Foods naturally rich in glutathione and vitamin E include nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and olive oil. You can also take a glutathione or vitamin E supplement.
     

    Zinc and Copper:

     
    Zinc is another mineral that is needed to convert T4 to T3. It is also needed to trigger a response from your hypothalamus to moderate thyroid hormone levels and keep them in balance. Good sources of zinc include beef and shellfish. You can also take a zinc supplement. However, since zinc can lower levels of copper, another important mineral in your body, it’s important to make sure you are getting enough copper when taking a zinc supplement. High-quality zinc supplements specially formulated for those with a thyroid disorder contain an optimal ratio of zinc and copper.
     

    Iron:

     
    Iron is needed to convert T4 into the more powerful thyroid hormone T3. It also helps convert iodide to iodine, which is needed for a functioning thyroid. Many women are deficient in iron, especially if they are menstruating every month. Good sources of iron are beef and chicken, dark leafy greens, and beans and lentils. You can also take an iron supplement, but it should be combined with vitamin C to help absorption. You should take it with food because it can cause an upset stomach when taken alone.
     

    DIAGNOSIS OF THYROID IMBALANCE

     
    While turning to WebMD may be tempting, remember that a doctor is your best bet for an accurate diagnosis. Blood tests are a doctor’s most reliable diagnosis tool for thyroid disorder. The thyroid function marker your doctor will check first is TSH, the messenger from the pituitary gland to the thyroid to indicate more thyroid hormones are needed. The pituitary gland cranks up the release of TSH when thyroid hormones are low, so an elevated TSH can be a sign of hypothyroidism. A low TSH suggests hyperthyroidism. If TSH is high or low, your doctor will check the other thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. There are other tests that can be done as well, such as thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, which may suggest that the cause of the thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease.

    MAINTAINING BALANCE

     
    Your thyroid may be small, but it carries a heavy responsibility for your overall health. Thyroid disease presents in a multitude of ways, with some very serious side effects. Now that you have a better understanding of the function of your thyroid and how your diet and genetics can affect its function, you are better equipped to maintain and build healthy thyroid function. It is important to listen to the messages your body is sending and seek help when you need it. A healthy balanced diet and open communication with your doctor will help keep you on the right track for optimal thyroid health.

     
     
    Love and Health,

    😍  GOOD READ? LET GOOGLE KNOW!

    NEW TO THIS BLOG? START RIGHT HERE

    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

    PROCESSED & ULTRA-PROCESSED FOODS: WHAT TO BUY, WHAT TO AVOID, & 5 EASY SWAPS

    PROCESSED & ULTRA-PROCESSED FOODS: WHAT TO BUY, WHAT TO AVOID, & 5 EASY SWAPS

    We’ve all been there…Driving home from a long day of work, didn’t have time to take your lunch break? Or saw your favorite fast food joint on the way home? Well, with busy schedules and no down time to cook a proper home-made meal, the most obvious thing to do is to grab something on the go.

    Processed food is everywhere…and I mean EVERYWHERE! Bread is an example as well as pasta, cereal, and sandwich meats. Anything that does not come directly from the ground and eaten right there and then is processed. Even foods that many of us may think are considered healthy are processed. Granola? Processed. That Slim Fast or Atkins bar you’ve been noshing on while trying to lose weight? Processed.

    Processed food has become such a big part of our lives, now more than ever. Believe it or not, processed food has been around since the prehistoric times. Methods such as fermentation, smoking, curing and drying have all been used to extend shelf life and enhance flavor. In the 1800s, techniques like tinning and pasteurization were developed to fight off bacteria and make food last longer. During the 19th and 20th century, food processing was brought to the next level in order to help feed military troops. Demand for ready-to-eat foods grew in the 20th century to keep up with busy, modern times.

    What we don’t know is recent studies have shown that the ingredients in what we are eating are doing more harm than good.

    In a study published in BMJ Open, the researchers found that for Americans, 58% of their diets consist of ultra-processed foods, defined as ready-to-eat meals or snacks that usually contain additives.

    Hidden sugars are found in these foods, often disguised as artificial sweeteners, which are believed to be responsible for many medical issues including migraines, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Ultra-processed foods are also often high in sodium, unhealthy fats, preservatives, and additives, and do not provide us with what we need the most including vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.

    What’s important to know is that not all processed foods are made the same. Ultra-processed foods have undergone significant processing and often the ingredient list tends to look like it should be something in a science lab rather than sold on grocery shelves.

    The 3 Stages of Food Processing

     

    1. The first stage of “processing” involves making sure the food is edible. Harvesting grain, shelling nuts, and slaughtering chickens are all considered primary processing. Foods that have only gone through this stage of processing are often still considered “whole” foods.

    2. A second stage makes a more complex, finished, “processed” product. This includes cooking, freezing, and canning.

    3. A third stage, in which manufacturers inject flavors, added sugars, fats, and chemical preservatives, produces ultra-processed foods.

    To make it easier to understand what to buy and what not to buy, a classification system called NOVA, developed by an international panel of food scientists and researchers splits foods into four categories:

  • Unprocessed or minimally processed foods: Think vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, meats, seafood, eggs and milk. Make these real, whole foods the basis of your diet.
  • Processed culinary ingredients: These items make plain vegetables and a grilled chicken breast taste a whole lot better. Examples are herbs, spices, balsamic vinegar, garlic and oil. Use these ingredients in small amounts to create fresh, home-cooked meals.
  • Processed foods: When ingredients such as oil, sugar or herbs are added to foods and they are packaged, the result is processed foods. Examples are simple bread, cheese, tofu, and canned tuna or beans.
  • Ultra-processed foods: Here’s the category where 58% of our calories come from. These foods go through multiple processes (extrusion, molding, milling, etc.), contain many added ingredients and are highly manipulated. Examples are soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, ice-cream, sweetened breakfast cereals, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, fries and more.
  •  
    With all this being said, just because something has gone through a process doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy to eat. In general, the ultra-processed foods are what you should cut back on or avoid.

    5 Easy Swaps:

     

    Potato Chips

     
    Swap these out for some vegetable chips such as Terra. These are made from real vegetables and contain minimal ingredients with no artificial flavors or preservatives.

    Sweetened Breakfast Cereals

     
    Swap these out with oatmeal made with rolled or steel-cut oats and sweeten with raw honey and fresh berries.

    Sodas

     
    Detox from those high-sugar sodas with naturally flavored sparkling water .

    Flavored Yogurt

     
    Enjoy the health benefits of fermented foods by switching from flavored yogurts that are high in sugar to plain Greek yogurt that is low in sugar and high in protein.

    Artificially Flavored Crackers

     
    Ditch the fake flavor and blood sugar spikes for crackers high in fiber and only made with natural flavors, such as Mary’s Gone Crackers .

    Tips on how to cut back on ultra-processed foods:

     

  • Make gradual changes instead of trying to cut everything out all at once, otherwise you’re usually doomed for failure.
  • Shop with a grocery list and stick to it.
  • Shop around the outer sides of the grocery store, as most processed foods are in the middle aisles.
  • Reading the labels. If you do not know how to pronounce an ingredient or have never heard of it, put the item back on the shelf and chose something with five or less ingredients.
  • Cook more often and plan your meals for the week. You’ll be less likely to find yourself in a position where you are very hungry and grab a highly processed food as a quick fix.
  • Dine out with the intention of making better choices. Avoid foods that are deep-fried and choose a vegetable for your side rather than a starch. Decline the bread basket.
  • Be less trustful in packaged foods marketed as “organic” or “healthy.” If the ingredient list is very long and you can’t pronounce the words, skip it.
  •  
     
    Love and Health,

    😍  GOOD READ? LET GOOGLE KNOW!

    NEW TO THIS BLOG? START RIGHT HERE

    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

    DOES STRESS CAUSE HORMONE IMBALANCE? HOW YOU CAN TELL (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT)

    DOES STRESS CAUSE HORMONE IMBALANCE? HOW YOU CAN TELL (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT)

    You fall into bed exhausted but wired, praying for sleep.

    Please?

    Just this once.

    You brain leaps about like a crazed monkey taunting you with your endless to-do list.

    Even though you’re going flat out every waking hour, you’re never caught up.

    During the few hours you manage to grab some sleep, you flip around restlessly and grind your teeth to dust.

    You know your stress level is off the charts; some days you think it could be detected from outer space, like one of those volcanic eruptions.

    As you scroll through your Facebook feed at 2am, a headline catches your eye: “Does stress cause hormone imbalance?” What the what, now? Great, something else to worry about.

    You slide on by because sometimes ignorance really IS bliss.

    But as you lay awake watching the numbers on your clock march on, 2:30, 3:00, 3:30, you’re haunted by the seemingly simple question, does stress cause hormone imbalance?

    You heave a sigh, scroll back, and start reading.

     

    Hormone Imbalance Is A Big, Hairy Deal

     

    Holy crap.

    You vaguely knew endless stress, with its elevated cortisol levels, could be bad, but not that bad.

    Like potentially life-threatening kind of bad.

    High blood pressure, weight gain, heart disease. Decreased immune function. Mental illness. The list goes on. Thank you, WebMD for scaring the bejeebers out of me.

    Not to mention, too much or too little of cortisol hormone can mess up all of your other hormones, too, making you lose your sex drive, miss your periods, giving you problems with your thyroid…. The list goes on and on.

    Depression smothers you in a thick gray cloud. Depression? Yeah, that’s one of the symptoms of chronic stress too.

    “I’m screwed,” you say aloud to the darkness.

    Not so fast.

     

    How To Relieve Stress To Balance Hormones

     

    Though high levels of the stress hormone cortisol have already thrown many of your other crucial hormones out of whack, it’s not too late to slow down or even reverse the effects.

    But how?

    How can you relieve stress to balance hormones?

    One of the simplest ways to start is by making healthier food choices.

    I know what happens when you’re stressed out, barely sleeping, and the least little thing throws you into a tizzy. It’s what a lot of us do: you reach for an ooey gooey good snack.

    This isn’t a judgement! It’s called comfort food for a reason.

    So relax. You don’t have to change your entire diet all at once. You’d be setting yourself up for failure instead of success. Which would spike your stress higher.

    Instead, start with something simple.

    Next time you have a crazy long day and you’re dying to nosh on those chocolate chip cookies, take a deep breath. Recognize the urge. Even say out loud, “I want comfort.”

    Sounds crazy, right? Like maybe you’re going to make it worse if you dare speak its name. But when you acknowledge your urge, it will lose its grip on you. You’ll be able to put the cookies back uneaten.

    When you do this even once, give yourself a high five! This is a huge first step toward taking charge of your health. Soon you’ll be buying healthier food at the grocery store too.

     

    Give Yourself A Natural High

     

    When you put a snack away, replace eating with exercise. You don’t have to be Ms. Super Athlete. Go for a short walk. Pick up your youngster and carry them around. Put on music and dance in your living room.

    When you exercise, your body produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in your body, especially in your brain. In fact, scientists have compared the feeling to that produced by morphine.

     

     

    (Bonus, these endorphins will replace the manufactured ones that processed food has been engineered to provide to get you hooked.)

    Endorphins also reduce your perception of pain, ward off anxiety, and help you sleep better.

    What’s not to love?

    Get your body moving and give yourself a natural high.

     

    Quiet Your Mind

     

    You can also add meditation to the mix.

    All you need is a timer, a quiet place to sit, and yourself.

    To begin, set the timer for 10 minutes. Sit with your hands in your lap or on your thighs. Take several long, slow, deep breaths.

    Close your eyes and focus your attention on the rise and fall of your belly as you breathe.

     

     

    When you notice your attention has strayed, gently bring it back like you would a beloved child who wandered off. Do this as often as you need to during those ten minutes.

    When the timer goes off, sit for a moment more and take several more long slow deep breaths. Then smile.

    That’s it!

    Though simple, the combination of deep breathing, quieting your mind with meditation, and smiling disrupts the stress cycle in your body and produces endorphins – just like exercise does.

    You see how all these practices reinforce each other. When you do them all, you increase their overall benefit.

     

    Get Back Into Balance

     

    Ongoing stress can ruin your health.

    You may already be sitting among the ruins wondering what on earth happened.

    It’s not fair.

    You don’t have to live whacked out on stress, wondering when the next health disaster will strike.

    You deserve to be in charge of your health.

     

     

    Now that you’ve discovered these powerful exercises, you’ll put yourself in control.

    You’ll lower your stress.

    Calm your cortisol.

    Energize your endorphins.

    Today, make a promise to yourself to get yourself back into hormonal balance.

    All you have to do is take the first step on the path to relieve stress to balance your hormones.

    Once you do, you won’t look back.

     
     
    Love and Health,

    😍  GOOD READ? LET GOOGLE KNOW!

    NEW TO THIS BLOG? START RIGHT HERE

    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

    5 COMMON HORMONE IMBALANCES THAT WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY

    5 COMMON HORMONE IMBALANCES THAT WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY

     
    At some point, you’ve probably heard someone say, “Sorry, I’m just being hormonal.” Or how about the teenager with the “raging hormones” who can’t seem to keep her head on straight?

    When things aren’t going right and when you don’t feel quite like yourself, you CAN blame it on your hormones. Why? Because your body is ruled by hormones. It’s not your fault and you can tell your husband that the next time he leaves the toilet seat up and you set his underwear on fire.

    Hormones are little chemical messengers that travel through your blood stream to tell different parts of your body what to do. From simple things like how fast your heart beats when you’re under stress, to more complex processes like fertility and reproduction. Hormones affect nearly every single process in our bodies.

    Produced in our endocrine cells, there are about 50 different hormones. When it comes to a woman feeling “hormonal,” there are about 5 hormones that come into mind when she complains that her hair is falling out, she’s gained a spare tire around her waistline, she’s lost her mojo, or other day-to-day physical dissatisfactions.
     

    The 5 hormones that may drive you crazy are:

  • Cortisol
  • Thyroid
  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Testosterone
  •  
    So… You might be wondering, “Do I suffer from one of these imbalances?
     

    Here are some clues to each type of imbalance:

     
    High Cortisol – Tired yet wired? This can leave you feeling wired, anxious and moody, tired but have trouble falling and staying asleep, gaining weight especially in the belly area, low sex drive, acne or other skin changes, a puffy and flushed face, and can also give you high blood pressure, brittle bones, a crappy immune system, and an irregular menstrual cycle (if you still get them). You can probably thank a stressful lifestyle or a traumatic childhood for this one.

    Low Cortisol – Tired and weak? This can make it especially hard to get out of the bed in the morning, have insomnia at night, sugar and salt cravings, easy weight gain, low sex drive, foggy thinking, depression and anxiety, and can also give you heart palpitations, cold hands and feet, and low blood pressure. Low cortisol tends to happen after cortisol has been high for a long time. Think of an engine going full-speed before burning out.

    High Thyroid – High thyroid speeds your body up. This is when you lose weight and you don’t know why. You can get nervous, jittery, moody, anxious, persistently tired yet feel wired, sensitive to heat, and have a swollen neck. In some cases, it can make your eyeballs look like they are bulging out. High thyroid can give you a fast and/or irregular heartbeat so you should never try to “self-diagnose” or treat this without a doctor monitoring too.

    Low Thyroid – Hello, weight gain. Low thyroid slows your body down, making you feel tired, constipated, lose your hair, have dry skin, feel cold, and forget things. Low thyroid is also something you shouldn’t self-diagnose or treat without a doctor monitoring too because it can slow your pulse down and if bad enough, land you in a coma. This happens more often to women than men and usually kicks in mid-life.

    Low Estrogen – This is when you feel dry (everywhere, if you know what I mean), moody, you’d rather do the laundry than make love, your memory is shot, and you might wake up at night in sweats and/or have hot flashes that make you want to turn the fan on even though it’s winter. Sex can hurt, you can’t sleep, and to top it all off, your bones are falling apart. Thank you, menopause.

    High Estrogen/ Low Progesterone – Are you bloated, emotionally volatile, and your boobs hurt? This is often the case, along with feeling depressed, more headaches than usual, weight gain, often uterine fibroids and/or fibrocystic breasts (lumpy and bumpy). Plus, your blood sugar goes on a rollercoaster ride and you might get yeast infections more often. This imbalance can happen in the younger years or the period as menopause is approaching.

    Low Testosterone – This is when you want your partner to keep their hands to themselves. Sex drive is in the gutter, it’s difficult to achieve an orgasm, you feel tired and weak, you gain weight, and you can’t sleep. This lovely imbalance usually happens after menopause.

    High Testosterone – This is often associated with Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOS) and most often affects younger women. Hair falls out on your scalp but also pops up in places it doesn’t belong, your skin breaks out with acne, voice becomes deep, you miss periods, and it’s very difficult to become pregnant. In addition, it can contribute to diabetes and obesity.

    Notice how a lot of these symptoms overlap? Some women see their gynecologist or primary care practitioner to help them figure out if they have an imbalance of one or more of these hormones.

    If you suspect something is going on but you really aren’t sure what it could possibly be, you can take a quiz to lead you in the right direction: THE MENOPAUSE SWITCH

    Depending on the hormone imbalance (because some types can actually be quite dangerous, such as when it comes to thyroid imbalance), medications may be used.

    Now don’t get me wrong, medications CAN be a lifesaver when it comes to feeling like you-know-what, when you’re having hot flashes faster than a firecracker on the 4th of July. And they can also save your life, preventing you from going into a coma if your thyroid gland is pumping out zero thyroid hormones.

    But… There are also some pretty nifty, natural supplements for whatever hormonal rage (or lack of) you’re battling with.

    Here they are:








    Love and Health,

    😍  GOOD READ? LET GOOGLE KNOW!

    NEW TO THIS BLOG? START RIGHT HERE

    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

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