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Blog posts of '2014' 'July'

Revealed: Sabotaging Food Words We Often Fall For

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Revealed: Sabotaging Food Words We Often Fall For

Whether you’re scrolling through a restaurant menu or shopping for groceries, if healthy eating is on your mind you may tend to base your food choices on certain buzzwords you spot on menus or food packages. Some of these buzzwords clue you in to how the dish is prepared whereas at other times they may be used to make a food item seem more nutritious than it actually is. Using these buzzword indicators can help you avoid unhealthy eating options and aid your quest for healthy weight management this summer.

Danger Zone Food Descriptions 101

Sometimes it’s not the food itself but a sauce or dressing that can get you. Potatoes contain vitamin C and more potassium than bananas, spinach, or broccoli. But if they’re made “au gratin” then beware—this means the dish will most likely be covered with cheese, heavy cream, and bread crumbs. Similarly, “battered” and “creamed” are other terms to be wary of when used to describe a dish. Anything battered is made with flour, eggs, and butter, then deep fried. Creamed broccoli, spinach, and corn may sound healthy since they’re made with vegetables. However, the cream sauces are thick with butter and heavy in fats and oils, canceling out most of the nutritional value of the vegetables.

More Obvious Warning Signs

Many BBQ sauces and marinades contains lots of sugar, which can make your glycemic index shoot up. If you’re trying to eat lighter and going the soup and salad route, it’s best not to go the creamy route. When trying to choose a healthy soup, a vegetable-based broth is the best choice. If you’re on a salad kick try to avoid heavy dressing such as bleu cheese, or at least ask for it to be served on the side so you can control how much you want to add.

Checking That Label Twice

Advertisers and food companies might also use healthy-sounding buzzwords to persuade you to purchase their items. “No fat”, “low calorie”, and “whole grain” sound nutritious. However, sometimes a closer look at the label is warranted. Some labels will say “no added fat”, but this could still mean that the product is heavy in fat content; it just means that no fat was added during processing.

Choosing foods based on popular buzzwords alone can also be counterproductive to your healthy eating plan. Temple Northup, an assistant professor at the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication at the University of Houston, recently published a study in Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. By putting 318 people through sample tests, given the choice between big-name products or products containing words such as “organic whole grain”, “heart healthy”, and “all-natural” on the packaging, he showed that the items containing the healthy buzzwords seemed immediately more appealing. But that didn’t necessarily mean the products were any healthier than items that didn’t have those key words on their packaging.

“Everything in our memory is connected, so everything associated with that word—like organic and thoughts of health—becomes more accessible and influences your decision,” Northrup said. For example, a can of soda may claim to be high in antioxidants because it contains one antioxidant. But upon closer inspection, there may be just a minimal amount of it in the ingredients.

Interpreting Descriptions for Health

Choosing healthier eating options becomes easier when you know what you’re looking for and what to avoid. You don’t have to spend hours scouring labels. Understanding how food is prepared and what a claim on a package really means can help you to avoid the bad and continually choose the good, allowing you to support a healthy figure throughout summer and beyond.

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Did You Know: Three Surprising Tips for Weight Loss

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Did You Know: Three Surprising Tips for Weight LossAs we reach the midpoint of summer, you may feel your motivation to maintain a healthy weight begin to slip, or maybe you're now feeling inspired to start taking your diet more seriously. Whatever your state of mind, there are plenty of ways to help you reach your objectives. Here are some unique tips to keep you sailing towards your summer weight goals.

Sometimes your body needs a little influence from the mind. If you often find yourself trying to juggle many tasks at once, take the time to put everything aside during mealtimes so you can focus on your food. A recent study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that if you're eating while doing another task, chances are you won't be satiated. In the study, one group of people ate a meal while playing solitaire while another group ate their meal without any distractions. Results showed that more people who played the game while eating couldn't remember what they ate—and they were still hungry afterwards. It also helps to plan your meals ahead. If your goal is to eat more servings of fruit and vegetables per week, for example, write it down and check it off your list the moment you do it. In one healthy eating experiment, participants who had a concrete plan to eat more fruit per week ended up eating twice as much fruit as those who simply tried harder without having a solid game plan. While a majority of people watch what they eat while dieting, it's also important to remember to watch for liquid calories. No matter how vigilant you are in monitoring your food intake, all that food-watching and calorie-counting can be undone with a few sugary drinks throughout your day. The American Heart Association recommends that adult men and women should consume no more than 37.5 grams and 25 grams of sugar, respectively, per day. A typical 20-oz. bottle of soda has around 65 grams of sugar and 240 calories—just one soda can almost double the recommended daily intake! Many store-brand fruit juices also contain as much sugar as sodas, so just because something has fruit in it, don't automatically assume that it will be low in sugar and calories. If you're feeling thirsty in the warm, summer sun, stick to water to stay hydrated or press your own fruit juices as a healthier option. Coffee can also help speed up your metabolism, but watch out for those sweetened coffee beverages because they can pack a lot of sugar and calories. The desire to enjoy the mid-summer season can be a great motivator to help you stay on your weight management course. However, the health tips here aren't just exclusive to summer; you can apply them all year long to maintain a healthy body weight. Find your motivation and enjoy the rest of the summer—and the entire year—in good health!

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You and Your Dirty Phone

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You and Your Dirty PhoneAccording to a United Nations report, 6 billion of the estimated 7 billion people in the world use cell phones. With the increasing use of cell phones as a means of staying connected to people and information, more and more individuals are constantly touching their phones throughout the day—and coming into contact with bacteria.

How Your Phone Relates to Health


A recent study sought to look at just what type of bacteria can collect on a typical phone from daily use. Taking samples of 17 people’s smartphone touchscreens as well as their index fingertips and thumbs, researchers discovered more than 7,000 different types of bacteria between all of the samples taken. Unsurprisingly, the individual microbes on each person’s phone closely matched the ones on that individual’s fingers.

“This study confirms that we share more than an emotional connection with our phones—they carry our personal microbiome,” said the study researchers in the June 24 issue of the journal, PeerJ. The term microbiome refers to each person’s unique set of microorganisms that reside in the skin, saliva, and gastrointestinal tract. Over time, your body has adapted to having these bacteria, so there’s no cause for alarm to find such bacteria on personal items such as phones, especially since the average person checks their phone up to 150 times per day.

The close relationship you share with your phone may even make it possible one day to use them as a way to monitor the bacteria you are exposed to in the environment. For example, your phone could be screened before or after entering a medical facility to see if you are bringing dangerous pathogens in or out, according to James Meadow, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon.

Protect Your Phone, Protect Your Well-Being

Just as you are capable of picking up microorganisms from the environment, so too can your phone. “Phones may carry bacteria that we pick up from being outside, or from touching surfaces or other people,” said Meadow. Some bacteria don’t integrate into your microbiome and further research is needed to understand how they affect health.

To help limit the amount of bacteria that may spread between you and your phone, practice the same hygiene habits with your phone as you would your own hands. For example, don’t let your phone come into contact with uncooked food or other unclean surfaces. Wipe it down regularly with an alcohol-free disinfectant wipe because alcohol rubs away the grease-repelling coating on touchscreens. Then dry it with an extra-soft cloth. Use a microfiber cloth—such as the kind used to clean sunglasses—to remove fingerprints and grease from your smartphone’s screen, and use a compressed air can to clear away crumbs and other debris that may get stuck behind buttons. This minimizes the transfer of bacteria to your face, which can cause irritation to your cheek and jawline, or even illness.

In addition to keeping your phone clean, remember to keep your hands clean as well through frequent handwashing. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing your hands under running water with soap for at least 20 seconds to kill germs effectively.

Make Hygiene a Habit

Everyone’s immune system reacts differently to certain environments, and Meadows advises that bacteria on smartphones and the body are not necessarily something to worry about. But good hygiene is something to be practiced for good health, especially if you feel ill often or have a low immune system. Just because you can’t see germs and bacteria on cell phones, door hands, or keyboards it doesn’t mean that they’re not there. By practicing good hygiene, daily immune system support can be easily integrated into your healthy lifestyle every day.

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