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Are you eating enough fibre

Goodness of fibre

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We often hear people saying, that fibre is good for the body and helps in weight loss. However they fail to mention, that why it is good for the body and how it helps to achieve weight loss. Fibre is one of the most important nutrients studied by doctors, nutritionists and dieticians. Also fibre has a great reputation in the world of ‘dieting and weight loss’. In recent years due to rising blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, fibre has become a focal point of interest for many research institutes and scientists.

So what is fibre?

Fibre or dietary fibre which is also referred as roughage(ruffage in American English) is simply the indigestible part of plant foods. Yes, fibre is never digested i.e. fibre is never broken down by the human body. Hence fibre has no calories.  As partially mentioned in one of my previous reads – ‘What carbohydrates you are eating, fibre is a type complex carbohydrate. However it is not digestible.

This characteristic of fibre raises an important question-If fibre doesn’t get absorbed by the body and doesn’t provide energy, why do we need it in our diet?

Just like carbohydrates fibre can be divided into two categories – Soluble fibre and Insoluble fibre.

Soluble fibre is a fibre that dissolves in water. Do not get confused, I said dissolved not digested. This fibre forms a gel like material after dissolving in water. Water carries this fibre through our body where it absorbs excess glucose from the food in small intestine, hence helping in removing excess glucose to stabilise blood sugar. Another great property of soluble fibre is that it absorbs bad cholesterol from the blood. The gel like material flowing through our blood sticks to cholesterol and leaves the body through waste removal.

Insoluble fibre is the type of fibre that does not dissolve in water. It rather acts like a sponge where it absorbs waste and become bulkier. Due to its characteristic of being non-digestive it leaves the body intact through intestines with all the absorbed waste. Its main purpose is to improve the movement of food through the digestive system and promote healthy removal of stool from the body.

Some great benefits of fibre rich diet

Soluble fibre helps in removing excess glucose from the blood. It stabilizes blood sugar thus keeping the energy level normal. As a result there is no pressure on pancreas to release excess insulin. As pointed out in the post – “What carbohydrates you are eating’’, excess insulin production in the body can make the body less sensitive towards insulin and increasing the chance of diabetes in the long run. Soluble fibre is recommended to prevent diabetes in people. Food rich in soluble fibre is also prescribed by doctors for diabetic patients.

A diet rich in fibre helps to maintain healthy bowel movement in the body. Insoluble fibre acts as a vacuum to absorb waste associated in the intestines. It accumulates the waste and form a bulkier state before leaving the body. This helps in preventing certain diseases related to constipation. If waste does not leave the body, it starts decomposing in the body due to reaction with bacteria. In some cases constipation can cause serious infection. Insoluble fibre helps in removing this waste.

As mentioned earlier soluble fibre helps in absorbing bad cholesterol from the blood. Bad cholesterol sticks to the artery walls and can damage the heart tissue or can even result in stroke. Research has suggested a diet rich in soluble fibre is very good for removing bad cholesterol from the blood.

Soluble bacteria due to its property of dissolving in water can help to aid the condition of diarrhoea. It solidifies the stool by absorbing water thus helping in smooth removal of toxic waste.

One of the greatest advantages of fibre is that it helps in losing weight. Soluble fibre absorbs water in the stomach thus making you feel full. Another reason is, that soluble fibre absorbs excess glucose from the blood thus lowering the state of insulin production. Due to this, energy is conserved in the body which makes you feel full for a longer time. It’s quite unlikely for a person to overeat when feeling full.

An indirect benefit of fibre is that its presence is usually accompanied with other complex carbohydrates that help in conserving and slowing down the release of energy. Hence a diet rich in complex carbohydrates is a diet rich in fibre.

Foods rich in fibre

Whole foods such as brown rice, brown bread, oats, bran, whole pasta, cauliflower, cucumber, zucchini, cabbage, carrots etc. are rich in insoluble fibre. Hence these foods can help in aiding constipation and help in healthy bowel movement.

Lentils, beans, carrots, apples, cucumbers, celery, strawberries, nuts, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower etc. are rich in soluble fibre. Hence these foods are good for maintaining healthy blood sugar and removing bad cholesterol.

Some of the foods mentioned above are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. It’s good to maintain a balance between the two. Hence foods rich in both should be considered on daily basis.

Daily healthy intake

According to study conducted by Institute of Medicine in 2012, men and women below fifty should consume at least 38 grams and 25 grams respectively. Above fifty men and women should consume at least 30 grams and 21 grams respectively. Most of the labels mention fibre content per serving on the pack. The good thing about fibre is unlike other nutrients it doesn’t get destroyed while cooking. It’s a good idea to include leafy greens in your cook and some salad on the side daily to maintain a good fibre balance in your diet.

One fun and interesting fact about fibre to think about: The human digestive tract is twenty-eight feet long. Fibre helps move waste along this large muscle.

Keep fresh and stay healthy 🙂

NAKUL BAJAJ

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Keeping In Control Of Your Diet

Many of us diet every year to loose extra kilos/pounds that we have gained, for not being in control of our diet. Some of us even diet twice a year or more and others diet every now and then. We all diet for majority of reasons – getting a six pack before the summer, getting fit before a competition, travelling abroad, beach party, etc. But do we all get the desired results? With so much information out there and various diet plans available from the best nutritionists, we still fail to get the desired results. Most of us have tried various diet plans, detox programs and yet unable to achieve the desired results. Well let me get to the point-‘dieting is not easy’.  There is a lot more to it than following the program.

The program is a great first step but not everything. These programs are designed using thorough research and years of experience. The people who may have followed various diet programs will know that all diet plans are not the same. In terms of food, one diet plan includes something that the other diet plan restricts. One diet plan will allow chicken and other will allow lean beef. The reason these diet plans are different is because, the nutritionists know your weakness. They design it so you don’t fail, and they give you best alternatives for sticking to your plan. If bread is your weakness, they will recommend you wholemeal with extra fiber. If you can’t live without beef, they will recommend you lean beef but only during the day.

So why do we fail?

1. Lack of Patience –  Most of us lack patience. We want to achieve results way to quickly. Due to lack of timely results we tend to  give up.

2. Munching every now and then – The time between lunch and dinner is the time when most of us starve the most. Picking up a cookie, m&m’s, chocolate bar when we are not supposed to, is quite common. We end up gaining those calories back, that we burnt during the day.

3. Badly defined goals – Goals are long-term and way too big. Some of us plan to diet for an entire year and follow the same program. In the end we loose motivation.

4. Letting things get out of hand – Some days we have parties and birthday dinners to attend, so we eat what we want rather than what we should. Many dieters make this mistake of falling in trap of peer pressure and let themselves use the excuse of birthday dinner.

How to take control and achieve those results?

1. Discipline – Its very important to discipline yourself. Dieting is a hard process and achieving the results take time and patience. Its very important to keep ourselves calm and to stay focused on the goal. One way to do that is divide our goal in small targets. For example if you want to loose 5 kilograms by the end of the month, your target can be losing 1.2 kilograms every week.

2. Knowing the products in your house – If you are starting a program, make sure you remove all the junk food such as potato chips, salty nuts, popcorn packs, chocolate bars, ice-cream, soft drinks, etc. Do not consume a whole lot of canned foods. Many canned foods are loaded with excessive salts(sodium, potassium). Load your shelf with bananas, quick oats, tuna, etc and your fridge with apples, oranges, pears, etc. Its much more healthier to munch on fruits than candy. Drink plenty of water, liquids between lunch and dinner. More water in the belly will trigger the brain that you are less hungry. Drinking coffee and tea in the evening can also take that hunger drive away for some time.

3. Treat yourself – Its always a good decision to treat yourself if you have achieved a goal. An occasional treat doesn’t make you hate dieting. If you have earned it, you deserve it. However don’t keep a pack of cookies or chocolates at home, else you will treat yourself more than often and way too much. Its a good idea to go buy chocolate from outside or treat yourself with a cookie at a coffee bar.

4. Start with five – Make goals that are attainable and can be foreseen. Making a goal of losing 15 kg’s in a month is very hard, start with 5 kg’s. If you lose 5 kg’s in 20 days, add extra 2 more to the goal and vice-verse if you loose 2 kg’s in 20 days, reduce your goal to 3 kg’s.

5. Planning your night outs – If you know you are going out for dinner, go to a restaurant that offers food relevant to your program. Many restaurants offer online menus, so browsing over the internet is a great option. You can also give the restaurant a call and ask the kind of menu they have. At birthday dinner you can stick with more grilled and roasted options, rather than fried. If your dish has chips as side try to switch them with salad. If you will be drinking, keep it to a glass of wine where possible. It has less calories than spirits and cocktails. You have to keep your will strong, as birthday dinners can be a great deal breaker.

6. Exercise – Doesn’t matter what it is whether dancing, jogging, swimming, aerobics, yoga or any other physical activity, they always make you feel good. They help to burn those extra calories and help you to get to your goal faster. You can also switch your exercise routine so it does not become boring. If you go for a run one day, go for dancing or swimming the other day.

Always think about your goal when you are dieting. If its getting away from you, try think about what will be it be like to achieve it. This attitude will always keep you in line. Example: Try imagine yourself with six packs on the beach. Once you achieve it go for a beach holiday to show what you have achieved. Nothing will make you feel better.

Good luck to all the fellow dieters.

Keep fresh and stay healthy.

NAKUL BAJAJ


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The Salt Experiment

Sodium is one of the key elements for human survival. It is an electrolyte which regulates the blood pressure in our body. For maintaining good health we need just optimum amount of sodium in our diet. However, if the level of sodium deviates too high or too low in our body, it can have adverse affects on our body. Sodium dissolves in the body fluids mainly water and helps in maintaining blood pressure. Higher concentration of sodium in the body increases the blood pressure and lower concentration decreases the blood pressure. Also higher concentration of sodium makes it hard for us to lose weight and on the other hand lower concentration of sodium shrinks our body. To explain this in detail I have conducted a simple experiment.

Things used for the experiment:

1. One teaspoon of salt.
2. One clear glass.
3. Water.

Before taking you through the experiment I would like to explain the process of Osmosis. According to “the free dictionary”, osmosis can be defined as, “the passage of solvent through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution to a more concentrated solution until both the solutions are of the same absorption. ” In simple words if I have two solutions, one with higher concentration of solute(material dissolved in solvent) and the other with no solute at all, when connected with each other through a semi restrictive layer, after a given period of time both solutions will have same concentration. This happens because only a given amount of solute can be absorbed by the solvent. Therefore solvent from the lesser concentrated solution flows into the higher concentrated solution to absorb enough solute, until both the solutions are of equal concentration. In my experiment salt is the solute, water is the solvent and their mixture is a solution.

Experiment: 

Step 1. Add one teaspoon of salt in a clear empty glass.

Glass with salt

Step 2.  Fill half the glass with water and give it a stir.

Glass with higher concentration of solvent

Step 3. Keep adding water to the glass until all the salt is absorbed.

Glass with lower concentartion of solvent

In this experiment ‘step 2’ depicts higher concentration solution. As you can see after filling half of the glass with water, there is still some salt(solute) yet to be absorbed. It needs more water(solvent) to be completely absorbed. As depicted in ‘step 3’, once we keep adding more water(solvent) to the solution, more the salt(solute) dissolves in the solution making it less concentrated. Hence this experiment proves the process of osmosis.

The same process happens in our body.

We humans knowingly or unknowingly tend to consume more sodium in our daily diet. Some of us consume by adding extra for flavor, others consume it through processed foods. Almost every processed food in the market has added sodium to it. Even breads, canned soups and vegetables, processed meats, dairy products have sodium in them. Due to their daily consumption we tend to store more sodium in our body than required. This results in the process of water retention, i.e. due to extra sodium in our body, our body stores more water than it should to absorb that extra sodium. As a result extra water flows through our blood stream increasing the blood pressure.
As mentioned before higher sodium concentration makes it hard for us to lose weight. When we exercise, our body uses energy from stored carbohydrates and sugar. However in their absence our body uses the reserved energy present in fats. There are various ways fat leaves our body and one of them is water loss. Body loses water either through urination or sweat. Due to higher concentration of sodium in our body, the fat that coverts into water also is used for sodium absorption thus not leaving the body. Hence you may be burning fats but not losing weight.

On the other hand when we consume less sodium our blood pressure decreases due to less water being absorbed, thus decreasing the blood flow. We also tend to shrink more as more water leaves the body due to sweating or urination. This may be bad, as optimum blood flow is required to take necessary minerals(nutrients) to various parts of the body and also necessary in sending signals.

How to maintain normal sodium level?

1. Eat more fresh foods. More than 80% of daily sodium requirement can be filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. For flavor just add pinch of salt to your food. You can use various herbs and spices such as red chilli, black pepper, cloves, cumin seeds, oregano, basil, bay leaves, etc to enhance the flavor.

2. Buy processed food that mentions no added salt or has lower sodium as compared to its competitor products.

3. Drink plenty of water on a daily basis. Try not to consume water until half an hour of meals, let the natural juices of your body do the work before you dilute them.

4. Keep following my blog :).

Hope you found this read equally informative and enjoyable.

Stay fresh and healthy.

-NAKUL BAJAJ