Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating habits’

5 Reasons Why Fruit and Vegetables Are So Important For Our Health

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Eat 5 a day!! or even eat 10 a day. Both of these slogans are used regularly to encourage people to eat a healthy diet, so that they may live long and healthy lives.

Encouraging people to eat more fruit and vegetables is seen a top priority by those who are promoting a healthier diet. Many serious illnesses are caused by nutritional deficiency due to a diet made up of poor quality food and far to many people are eating processed foods and fast foods that have little or no nutritional value.

Research indicates that nine or ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day is optimal, whereas dietary guidelines tend to recommend a minimum of five servings a day. However it would appear that most populations are consistently not reaching even half this goal. Attempts to increase the intake of fruit and vegetables is proving to be a major public health challenge.

So why are vegetables so beneficial to our health?

  1. The fibre content in fruit and vegetables, ultimately aids the digestive process.
  2. Vitamins – Vitamin C and  the B complex vitamins are found in all fruit and vegetables whereas vitamin A is found in read yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes.
  3. Minerals – The minerals copper, iron, zinc, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and potassium are found in certain fruit and vegetables
  4. Phytonutrients- More recently research has been focusing on a different set of nutrients called phytonutrients. These bioactive substances are found in all plants – not just fruit and vegetables but also in flowers, herbs spices, seeds, nuts, oils, cereals, pulses, chocolate as well as beverages such as tea and coffee. Many but not all of these nutrients are highly coloured. There are 20 top phytonutrients each with their own special name and properties
  5. It is well documented that people who eat a diet rich in plant foods have a reduced incidence of heart disease and cancer
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Probiotics Build a Strong Immune System

We hear on a daily basis through media advertising, that probiotics are necessary to build a strong immune system, but what does this mean and how can we ensure that we don’t get caught up in media hype?

Most people are totally unaware that there are 100 trillion bacteria, weighing a total of 3 pounds (approx 1.5 kg) lining their intestinal tracts. This complex system of beneficial bacteria is a crucial part of the immune system. The primary function of the beneficial bacteria is to protect the body from invasion, but this can only happen successfully if we ensure that our diets are such that the beneficial bacteria are nurtured and encouraged with probiotics and not bombarded with unhealthy foods such as sugar, processed foods and toxic chemicals.

In a healthy individual, the good bacteria in the gut, represents about 80% of the total bacteria present, the other 20% being of the pathogenic variety. However when the ratio is 80 : 20 the good bacteria keep the pathogenic bacteria in check and the good bacteria are able to continue their job of producing a strong immune army. If we eat a diet of sugar and processed foods, what happens is that these foods “feed” the pathogenic bacteria and they become more prolific and can ultimately impair your immune system.

To maintain the good bacteria it is vital to adopt a diet that not only feed the good bacteria with probiotics but also avoids the foods that feeds the pathogenic bacteria. A two pronged attack. To provide the body with probiotic enhancing foods our diet should contain foods that have been fermented eg kefir, sauerkraut etc If you are not eating these foods then you should consider supplementing your diet with a good quality probiotic supplement. A good probiotic supplement will contain bacterial cultures such as lactobacillus, acidophilus and bifidus. If the probiotic supplement is a good one these cultures will be highly concentrated forms of the particular bacteria. Unfortunately many of the gimmicky probiotic foods that promise to feed your gut with good bacteria, have been found to contain very little if any living bacteria, and many of them are sugar laden which rather defeats the object of the exercise.

Probiotics should ideally be taken with food as part of your daily routine. They are also an excellent companion if you are traveling abroad. Many people experience infectious traveler’s diarrhea while visiting foreign countries and a bottle of probiotics can help to clear up the infection in record time.

Probiotics tend to be viewed as something to take when on a course of antibiotics. This of course is vital, but they should really be given a little more credence for the wonderful job they do supporting the immune system, which after all is the most important contributor to our overall health

Healthy eating habits for healthy kids

With so much in the news about the rise in childhood obesity and the prevalence of food related behavioral problems, it is important for parents to have some basic understanding of how to look after the health of their children. Most health related issues encountered in children are mainly due to the ignorance of parents rather than a lack of care and concern.

It is important to remember that children learn good eating habits by example. It is no use parents imposing rules on their children that they blatantly are not prepared to adhere to themselves.

As a general rule of thumb the ideal diet for a child should consist of mainly natural wholefoods such as fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains. It is always best to start as you mean to continue, so the earlier in the child’s life that these habits are formed the easier it will be.

Try to make the food interesting and appealing. Cutting up fruit and veg into small pieces and serving with dips such as yoghurt and hummus is worth a try. You can also put the fruit into smoothies and make soup with the vegetables.

Sweet foods are always a problem with young children. they seem to have a naturally sweet tooth. But remember this doesn’t have to be satisfied with sweets and chocolates and sticky puddings. Many children will enjoy nuts and raisins as a snack or maybe a piece of toast with a nut butter spread. Honey is always a better alternative to sugar and can be used when making homemade cakes and biscuits.

All children need foods that contain omega 3 essential fatty acids, as these are key factors in the development of optimal brain function. 3 servings a week of oily fish such as salmon, sardines or herring. In addition avocados and olive oil are worth considering.

Meal times should be made enjoyable for children and should preferably be a family affair where everyone sits at the table and eats together. Eating while watching the TV doesn’t encourage a healthy attitude towards food and meal times and should be seen as an occasional treat rather than the norm.

If your child has already got into bad eating habits then it would probably be best to take a gentle approach and make small changes over a period of time

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