Understanding the Effects of Eating Bad Cheese

‍Decayed Cheese! Be Careful!

Illustration of rotten cheese
Photo by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

If you’re a cheese lover, you probably can’t resist trying out the different varieties from time to time. However, one concern is the possibility of eating cheese that has gone bad. 

In this article, we’ll be discussing the effects of eating cheese that has decayed. We’ll start with the most important factor – what to look for when cheese goes bad, and then we’ll go into detail about why this happens.

Detecting Decaying Cheese 

Moldy cheese wrapped in cling film in the refrigerator
This cheese has sure signs of mold despite it being in plastic cling wrap and kept cold in the refrigerator

This can be a bit tricky as it depends on the type of cheese, its age, and how it has been stored. However, here are a few general signs to look out for when determining whether cheese has gone rotten:

    1. Expiration Date: This is the first thing you should check and that starts at the grocery store. Avoid buying cheese that is close to its expiration date. Once it is home and in the fridge, periodically check the expiration date. If the cheese is a few days past its expiration date, it may not be safe to eat, and depending on how long past the date is, it may be best to throw it out.
    2. Appearance: Check the cheese for any signs of mold or discoloration. While some types, such as blue cheese, have mold in them as part of the aging process, other types should not have any visible mold. If the cheese appears slimy, discolored, or has a strange texture, it could be a sign of spoilage.
    3. Smell: Take a whiff. If it has a pungent, sour, or ammonia-like odor, it may be spoiled. Fresh cheese should have a mild and pleasant aroma.
    4. Taste: Give the cheese a taste. That means taste. Not eat! If it has a bitter or sour taste, it could be spoiled. If it has a sharp or overly tangy taste, it may have been over-aged.
    5. Texture: If the cheese has a mushy texture or appears to be separated, it could be spoiled. A hard cheese like cheddar or parmesan should not be soft or rubbery. 

If you are in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it away. Eating spoiled cheese can cause foodborne illnesses and other health problems.

What Causes Cheese to Decay?

Cheese is a dairy product that is made by taking milk proteins and separating them from the whey (watery part). It is then aged for a certain period, depending on the variety of the cheese. Like any other food item, cheese can go bad if not handled properly. 

The main causes of decay are:

    • Contamination: Cheese can get infected by bacteria, mold, or other microorganisms. This can happen during the production process or due to improper storage conditions.
    • Improper Storage: Cheese should be stored at a specific temperature and humidity level to prevent it from spoiling. If the storage conditions are not optimal, cheese can go bad quickly.

The Dangers of Eating Bad Cheese

The severity of the effects depends on the type of cheese and the extent of spoilage. Here are some of the dangers:

Mild Effects  

Mild effects of eating bad cheese include an upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. These symptoms can occur due to the presence of harmful bacteria in the cheese.

Moderate Effects 

Moderate effects include fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. These symptoms can occur due to the presence of toxins produced by bacteria in the cheese.

Severe Effects  

Severe effects include kidney failure, meningitis, and sepsis. These symptoms can occur due to the presence of dangerous bacteria like Listeria or E.coli in the cheese.

What to Do If You’ve Eaten Cheese That Has Gone Bad

If you are experiencing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the problem and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Prevention Tips 

Preventing cheese from going bad starts with proper handling and storage. Here are some tips for avoiding bad cheese:

Store It Properly

Cheese should be stored at a specific temperature and humidity level. Check the label for proper storage.

Use Proper Handling Techniques

Always use clean utensils and cutting boards. Keep your hands clean and avoid touching the cheese, as this can introduce bacteria and other microorganisms.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts on the Importance of Food Safety

In conclusion, eating bad cheese can have serious consequences on your health. Always take proper precautions when handling and storing cheese to avoid spoilage.

If you suspect that you’ve eaten bad cheese, seek medical attention immediately. Remember to always check the expiration date, store cheese properly, and use proper handling techniques. By following these tips, you can enjoy your favorite cheese without worrying about the dangers of eating bad cheese.

Always prioritize your health by taking food safety seriously. Be cautious about the cheese you buy and how you handle it. If you experience any symptoms of food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.

 

What is Listeria?

Bacterial culture plate with chicken meat at the background
Listeria bacterial culture plate with chicken meat in the background. Photo: iStock

Listeria Introduction 

Food poisoning can occur in many ways. Mainly, it comes from eating bad food, such as rotten cheese. Listeria is one of these food poisoning illnesses.

In this blog post, we will answer the questions you may have about this disease and provide information on how to protect yourself.

So What is Listeria?

It is a bacterial infection that can cause serious illness, especially in pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. 

Where Does It Come From?

The bacteria can be found in soil, water, and certain animals, and can be present in food, especially if it is not handled or cooked properly. When a person ingests Listeria, it can cause a serious infection known as Listeriosis.

How Does Listeria Affect Your Health?

The symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the infection. Some people may not experience any symptoms, while others may develop severe health issues within a few days of ingesting the bacteria.

The symptoms can be flu-like, such as fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can cause meningitis, sepsis, or even death. 

Who is at Risk of Getting the Disease?

Pregnant woman putting up hand against eating deli meat sandwici
Avoiding foods that are more susceptible to Listeria while pregnant is important. Photo: iStock

While anyone can become infected with the disease, certain groups of people are at higher risk. As mentioned, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Specifically, pregnant women are ten times more likely to be infected with the illness than the general population. This is because the immune system is naturally weakened during pregnancy, making it harder to fight off infections and it can cause miscarriages, stillbirth or severe illness in newborns.

Older adults and people with weakened immune systems are also more susceptible to Listeriosis because their bodies may not be able to fight off the infection as effectively.

How Listeria is Diagnosed and Treated

If you suspect that you may have been infected with Listeria, it is important to seek medical attention right away. A doctor can perform a blood test or spinal fluid test to diagnose Listeriosis.

If you are diagnosed with the disease, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to provide supportive care and prevent complications.

Preventing Infections Through Proper Food Handling

Man washing his hands with sanitizer
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

One of the most effective ways to prevent this type of food poisoning is through proper handling. This means washing your hands and utensils regularly, cooking food to the appropriate temperature, and storing food properly.

It is also important to avoid certain high-risk foods, such as those mentioned below. These foods are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria, especially if not handled right, and should be avoided, especially by pregnant women and other high-risk individuals.

Foods That Are Commonly Associated with Listeria

The bacteria can be found in a variety of foods, but certain foods are more commonly associated with Listeria outbreaks. These include, but are not limited to:

      • Deli meats and hot dogs.
      • Smoked seafood.
      • Unpasteurized dairy products.
      • Soft cheeses, such as feta, brie, and camembert.
      • Raw sprouts.
      • Prepared salads, such as chicken or egg salad.

Outbreaks and Recalls

Listeria outbreaks can occur when contaminated food is distributed and consumed by large numbers of people. In recent years, there have been several high-profile outbreaks, including one in 2011 that was linked to cantaloupe and resulted in 33 deaths.

Last month, a 10-state outbreak of Listeria occurred. Although the number of people who contracted the disease is low, it is still a serious matter. The ages range from 47 to 88 years old and are in the states of Arkansas, California, Colorado, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington.

And what appears to be a separate incident, but occurred in the same month was a recall of food products that may have been contaminated with Listeria resulting from a test by the Fresh Ideation Food Group LLC in Baltimore.

It is important to stay informed about these recalls and to avoid consuming any recalled products.

Importance of Food Safety Regulations

Food safety regulations are in place to protect consumers from harmful bacteria. These regulations set standards for food handling, processing and distribution to ensure that food is safe to eat.

Conclusion 

Listeria is a harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness, especially in high-risk individuals such as pregnant women and older adults. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea, and the infection can be diagnosed through blood or spinal fluid tests.

Preventing these infections is possible through proper food handling and avoiding high-risk foods. It is also important to stay informed about Listeria outbreaks and recalls to avoid consuming contaminated products.

We encourage everyone to be mindful of food safety and to take steps to protect themselves and their families from harmful bacteria such as Listeria.

 

Healthest Sugar Substitutes as Sweeteners


July 2023 Update – Aspartame

Note: As of July 2023, aspartame has been approved by the FDA and designated safe for human consumption; however, this doesn’t rule out ongoing studies that say there still can be a cancer risk. 

Taking into account the FDA ruling, it is logical to conclude that although some research hasn’t eliminated the cancer risk, the probability of acquiring this disease is extremely low.

The World Health Organization (WHO) tends to agree with this premise. According to AARP’s article “Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad for You“, WHO was quoted as saying, “an adult weighing approximately 150 pounds would need to drink, for example, between nine and 14 cans of diet soda a day to exceed that limit.” 

In conclusion, there is no hard-core fact that proves aspartame is not harmful in some way, but being that not one of these organizations’ expert researchers cannot substantiate the effects of this sweetener one way or another, taking it should be left at an individual’s discretion.

March 2023 Update – Erythritol

A recent study by the Cleveland Clinic for the artificial sweetener  Erythritol is possibly linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Not only has this sweetener been gaining popularity, but it has been recommended for the Keto diet as well.  This study is very recent, so we are assuming those who are recommending Erythritol will be reviewing these results closely. The findings were published on nature.com.

Overview

Spoon in sugar
There are lots of alternatives to sugar as a sweetener. Photo: Pixabay

In our previous article, we focused on sugar substitutes and calorie intake. Now let us delve a little deeper and discuss what ingredients are actually in these sweeteners and the pros and cons they may contain.

Many dieters are looking to improve their health by avoiding refined and added sugar in their recipes. With many turning to popular low-carb diets, sugar substitutes are a must! This food additive has a sweet taste, similar to sugar but contains significantly less food energy. There are many substitutes on the market with some that are natural and some that are synthetic. It is important to know the difference between these sweeteners and how they can differentially affect both your health and blood sugar.

      • Aspartame 
        Please note the updates above, but as an FYI, we have left our previous notation about aspartame below:
        This artificial sweetener sold as Equal and Nutrasweet, isn’t without controversy about its safety. It doesn’t affect blood sugar and contains zero calories and a zero glycemic index, but those with a rare condition called phenylketonuria must avoid aspartame. Studies also found those more susceptible to headaches should also avoid it as well. A study from the University of Liverpool found that when aspartame was combined with certain types of food coloring, it became toxic to the brain cells and could cause undue anxiety. Better to be safe than sorry and avoid this sweetener“.
      • Sucralose – Also known as Splenda, this sweetener might be suitable for diabetics but one study found it may negatively impact the immune system. Sucralose also poses a potential risk to the environment. Researchers are finding that after it passes through our bodies and ends up in wastewater treatment plants, it can’t be broken down. Tests in Norway and Sweden found sucralose in water released from treatment discharge sites. Scientists worry it could change organisms’ feeding habits and interfere with photosynthesis, harming the entire food chain.
      • Sugar Alcohols – Sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol are all sugar alcohols that are popular in sugar-free candy and gum. However, these sweeteners do contain 2.6 calories per gram. They may be less sweet and less caloric than sugar, but large amounts can produce laxative effects and bloating. Excess consumption also raises blood glucose so these types of sweeteners should be consumed in small quantities.
      • Stevia Leaf Extract
        Stevia Sugar Substitute
        Photo ©SMS

        This natural sweetener comes from a plant in South America. Sold under brands such as Truvia and Pure Via, it contains no calories and doesn’t affect blood sugar. Its downside is that it doesn’t taste as sweet as the other substitutes and it doesn’t work well in baking.

        But it is a great natural alternative to sugar. With that said, be sure to check the label as many brands combine stevia with other sweeteners. Also, make sure the ingredients list only stevia extract and inulin fiber or erythritol which is another great healthy sweetener.

      • Erythritol – This sugar alcohol has a positive and rising reputation. It is produced naturally from glucose. In small amounts under 50 grams erythritol doesn’t cause a digestive upset like others in this category. Studies find that with its zero glycemic indexes, it doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin levels and also doesn’t cause tooth decay. This sweetener is also a perfect candidate for baking and cooking and tastes identical to sugar when mixed with a tiny amount of Stevia. 

Conclusion

No doubt Stevia would be the winner here, but that does not mean you can’t delve into some of these other sugar substitutes if you want a sweeter taste. If you are unsure, talking to your medical practitioner is always a good choice, especially if you have a medical condition associated with these foods.

 

Best Human Food for Your Dog

Beagle Dog
Look how healthy Rover is! If you want him to stay that way, read on. Image by Denise coyle from Pixabay

Since humans and pets are different from one another, we think that both of them like to eat different foods, but that’s not entirely the case. Some human food is loved by your pets, but it has to be the right one. Check out this list of mutual food items you and your dog love. 

Note 1: It should be noted that, like humans, your pet could have allergies or other health issues when eating human-made food, so always check with your veterinarian before giving them any of the treats we love!

Note 2: If you are not already aware, chocolate can be deadly for your pet. NEVER give your dog chocolate or anything that contains chocolate of any portion! You can read more about this danger here.

Now let’s move on to what is considered healthy for your canine buddy!

Yogurt 

Bowl of Yogurt

Just like yogurt is good for human health, yogurt can also be a source of protein and calcium for dogs. It has vitamins that are good for the health of both humans and animals, which is why it makes sense for your pet to have too. But before choosing yogurt, you should pick the natural one with no artificial flavors without any sugars or sweeteners.

Also, it should not have any active bacteria because they will act as probiotics. In addition, if your dog is overweight, you should ensure you buy a fat-free yogurt, but not one with fat substitutes, such as olestra, simplesse etc. And when summer comes, why not treat them to some yogurt?

Rice

Bowl of Rice
Photo by Jocelyn Morales on Unsplash

Rice is loaded with iron and vitamins B3 and D. It is best to boil the rice until it is well-cooked but sticks with white rice. Brown rice can cause issues for your dog if he/she is having gastrointestinal issues or other health problems. 

White rice has a higher glycemic index than brown rice and can cause blood sugar levels to rise, but it is important to remember that white rice provides a source of starch that can be beneficial to ill dogs. Diabetic pets may still consume a small amount of white rice if they desire, but not regularly.

It is also suggested not to serve your pet rice alone, mix it up with portions of other food for a balanced diet. For healthy dogs, an appropriate portion of white rice should be fine; however, always check with your vet first.

Peanut Butter 

Peanut Butter in a jar
Photo by Tetiana Bykovets on Unsplash

While you may like to spread peanut butter on your bread at the breakfast table, your pooch may be looking right at you, drooling for some of this tasty delight too.

Dogs love peanut butter. It is good if you treat them with a spoonful of unsalted peanut butter daily. 

It is good for their health, but you need to purchase a good peanut butter brand that does not contain xylitol. This can be very dangerous for your pet! 

If your dog is inactive, it is good to feed them peanut butter as it is a source of protein, minerals, and fats.

Pumpkins

With Halloween coming, how can we leave out this seasonal squash fruit? Yes, fruit. Not a vegetable, although it may look like a vegetable. 

Pumpkins are rich in vitamins and minerals that include. Protein, Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin B2, Vitamin E, and iron.

Humans and animals alike can reap the benefits of the delicious fruit.

Eggs

Eggs can also be a food item that you and your pet can share. If you require proteins and energy, your doctor may recommend you eat eggs. Similarly, when it comes to dogs, eggs can also be a healthy snack. 

Providing dogs with proteins and energy, they can make an unhealthy dog healthy and fat. However, you should keep the quantity small because feeding dogs eggs daily can make them fat and gain weight, making them inactive. 

Now that you know how the people’s food items are also the favorite food items of your pet dogs, you should feed these foods to them too.

Summary

Although it is safe for Rover to have some human food, stick with what is recommended and don’t go off giving him/her anything not on the list from veterinarians and/or reputable internet sources. Especially stay away from foods that contain xylitol or chocolate! And always check with canine MD if you are unsure of anything that you want to feed your pet!

What Does ‘Juice Concentrate’ Mean?

Photo of fruit jar label saying Concentrate
Photo: Photos of a lifetime

When you see “from concentrate” on the label of your favorite juice, don’t worry if you think you’ve been drinking less juice than you thought. You will be pleasantly surprised to hear that you have not. So what does it mean? Does it mean that the juice is not fresh or healthy? Is it less nutritious than other juices? Is it a cheaper version of natural juices? Thankfully, you won’t need to worry about any of those things.

When you see the phrase on a beverage, it simply indicates that the juice has been condensed and packaged for ease of storage and shipping. There is not much of a negative implication in calling a beverage “from concentrate” – it’s just another way of packaging and shipping the same great product! But there are some compromises. 

Let’s ‘Concentrate’ on the Details!

Person holding am apple
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“From concentrate” is the process of fruit juice being treated with a certain amount of heat and pressure to extract more of the juice from the original fruits.

This process is typically used for mass-produced juices. It has the added benefit of being able to be made year-round, even when fruits are out of season. The high heat and pressure used in this process preserve the juice much longer than fresh juice would last.

While fresh juices are often delicious and nutritious, they are also perishable. As soon as the juice is extracted from the fruit, it begins to lose nutritional value and spoil. For example, an apple fresh off the tree has around 80% of its nutrients intact. The rest of the nutrients are lost as the juice is pressed out of the apple. But no worries. Read on!

The benefits of a ‘From Concentrate’ Juice

Since these juices are concentrated and have undergone additional processing, they usually have higher levels of vitamins and minerals than fresh juices. This is because fresh juices begin to lose their nutritional value as soon as they are extracted from the fruit or vegetable they’re made from. To make the most of their ingredients, industrial juice companies harvest fruit at its peak ripeness and then quickly process and package their juices.

A from-concentrate juice, by contrast, is flash-frozen and then packaged. Because freezing prevents any nutritional degradation, these juices can have higher levels of vitamins and minerals than fresh juices. From-concentrate juices are also often more affordable than fresh juices, thanks to the fact that they can be shipped and stored for long periods. From-concentrate juices are a great way to get more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients into your diet without having to spend a fortune. They’re also a great choice for people who have trouble digesting fresh juices.

The Difference Between From-Concentrate and Natural Juices

Orange Juice Bottle
Tropicana 100% Juice. Not from Concentrate. Photo: SS – photosofalifetime.com

There are a few key differences between from-concentrate juices and fresh, natural juices. First, from-concentrate juices have been flash-frozen and packed in a can or a plastic bottle. By contrast, fresh juices are sold in transparent plastic containers, and they are best consumed within a few days of being made.

The freezing process that from-concentrate juices are put through extends their shelf life significantly. Fresh juices won’t last nearly as long as from-concentrate juices, as they contain a much higher amount of water that can breed bacteria. From-concentrate juices are also typically more expensive than natural juices because they are more time- and labor-intensive to produce.

So your choice is buying from-concentrate juices and expecting a relatively long shelf life or buying fresh juice without concentrate with a less shelf life but saving a few dollars doing so.

Some people like to latter option since it requires less processing. We’ll leave the decision up to you!

How is From-Concentrate Juice Made?

As we’ve seen, from-concentrate juices begin with a mixture of fruit and water. The water is then removed, either through a filtering process or by applying extreme heat. In some cases, ingredients like sugar, citric acid, and/or preservatives are added to the mixture. From there, the concentrated juices are flash-frozen and packaged in canisters or plastic bottles.

Is There Any Downside to From-Concentrate Juices?

There isn’t anything wrong with from-concentrate juices per se. They are simply another way of packaging and shipping the same great product! That being said, it may be worth noting that from-concentrate juices tend to have less fiber than their fresh counterparts. Since from-concentrate juices are flash-frozen, the water inside them freezes quickly. The resulting ice crystals burst open the cells of the fruit, releasing their fiber and other nutrients. Fresh juices, on the other hand, are frozen at a much slower pace. This is because fresh juices contain a higher amount of water that needs to be boiled off first.

Conclusion

In summary, there is nothing to worry about when you see “from concentrate” on the label of your favorite juice. From-concentrate juices have simply undergone a process that extracts more juice from the fruit and then flash-freezes it for long-term storage and shipping. From-concentrate juices are just as nutritious and delicious as fresh juices, and they can be a great way to get more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients into your diet without having to spend a fortune.

Woman purchasing food during the COVID pandemic
Photo: Pexels

Still, want to ensure you are getting the most out of your fruits? Purchase the real fruits in the fruit section of your grocery and then you can never go wrong!

4 Basic Nutrition Meals for Good Health

Vegetables
For those who are not deficient in vitamins, eating healthy foods is one of the best ways to go

If you’ve been reading our diet and health articles, you have seen what good nutrition can do for you, so let’s extend these benefits by discussing some healthy meals for maintaining our natural well-being.  

Here are some meals that cover some of the most nutritional items on the planet. 

Breakfast

.
1. Mixed Greens with Tomatoes, Whole Grains, and Turmeric with a Touch of Light Dressing

Granola-Tumeric Chips with Blueberries, Strawberries, and Raisins over Cottage Cheese 
Photo: SS

Many of you are concerned about gaining weight, but this dish is a dieter’s dream. Packed with essential nutrients your body will love but low on calories.

  • Granola: Loaded with fiber which helps to avoid weight gain, but read the labels! Some food items that offer granola may be high in calories, such as cereal.. With that said, this is a nutrient-packed food and contains oats, whole grains, protein, iron, vitamin D, folate, and zinc.
  • Tomatoes: They say eating green vegetables are some of the healthiest veggies you can eat, but red ones are too! Enter Tomatoes, which contain a nice supply of antioxidants through the hydrocarbon lycopene. Hydrocarbon is a chemical element that contains carbon and hydrogen.  Lycopene has been known to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. So instead of just sticking with greens, get colorful!

  • Turmeric – a plant that contains curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory effects and a strong supply of antioxidants. Because of its abundance of curcumin, turmeric can fight off indigestion, abdominal bloating, and loss of appetite.

    The end result is that if you want to keep your immune system strong, add this healthy plant to your diet. Recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, it is suggested to take  400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric three times daily to help with inflammation relief.

2. Bowl of Whole Wheat Cereal with Strawberries, Blueberries, and Garonla Chips

Bowl of Cereal
Photo by SS

Here we keep our granola but substituted the veggies with fruits. Berries to be exact.  We discuss the benefits of berries below in our lunch menu, so we won’t repeat it here.

Just know that you are adding in some great nutrients when you have fruit, any fruit! The more colorful, the more nutritious. That goes for veggies too!

Lunch
.

3. Egg Salad, Strawberries, and Blueberries

Plate of eggs, strawberries and blueberries
Photo by SS
  • Eggs: We won’t fool you.  A portion of eggs are high in cholesterol, but in 2000, the American Heart Association made the determination that healthy adults can enjoy them once per day, but they still warn that it shouldn’t surpass the total daily cholesterol limit of 300 mg; however, but there are many healthy ingredients in these chicken delights that can override this negative.

    Packed with protein, lutein, choline, and B vitamins, they are good for your body overall. If eating eggs concerns you or if you have cholesterol or heart issues, talk to your doctor about eggs and if you get the go-ahead, dig in!
     
  • Blueberries
Fresh Berries in a bowl
Photo by Brandon Wilson on Unsplash

What can we say about this tasty fruit? Known as a superfood, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which fight off those nasty and unhealthy free radicals

As a matter of fact, blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of just about every other fruit and vegetable out there. Studies have shown they may help prevent heart disease, diminish brain diseases and help with anxiety. 

  • Strawberries: These red delights contain two grams of fiber which improves your digestive health and as with blueberries, they fight oxidative stress which reduces our risk of acquiring illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

Dinner

4. Turmeric Salmon with Beats, Sweet Potatoes, Guacamole, and Kale

Salmon on a plate
Salmon is one of the healthiest foods you can eat! Photo: Graphic Stock
  • Salmon: This superfood is known to be one of the healthiest foods around because of its rich set of Omega-3 fatty acids. This nutritious fish also assists in maintaining eye and brain health. It defends against such illnesses as Alzheimer’s disease and helps drive back depression. Eating salmon three times a week can help you maintain your health, especially if you are in your senior years.
    • Beats come from the beetroot plant and contain essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin C.
    • Sweet potatoes are great for depression and anxiety. This vegetable also helps to regulate blood pressure and contains potassium, a needed macromineral for our body, as well as magnesium, which supports the immune system, among many other health benefits.
    • Guacamole: You can’t go wrong with this fruit! Yes, it’s a fruit and comes from the avocado tree. It is loaded with some essential health ingredients. Here’s the rundown of guac’s benefits: Vitamins K, C, B5, B6, and E. It also contains potassium and folate.
    • Kale: This hearty appetizer contains all the vitamins in guacamole as well as manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium. All great nutritional benefits! 

Add some more turmeric and you’ve got one free-radical killing machine!

Summary

The mix and match of healthy food variants are endless. It is up to your imagination how you’d like to use them. One tip is to have an assortment of different fruits and vegetables each day. The more colorful your assortments, the more the variety of nutrients that will be available, so choose our selection or change them around, but whatever food you chose, you know your body will thank you, so jump right in and enjoy!

Battling Eating Disorders During the COVID Pandemic

Man eating a sandwichHaving an eating disorder is like carrying the devil on your shoulder, who forces you to think about food around-the-clock and then guilt-trips you into feeling awful when you grab a bite to eat. People living with eating disorders develop an unhealthy relationship with food; they get obsessed and consequently feel rattled whenever there is food readily available. 

So, for most people in this category, the best escape becomes avoidance. They start avoiding food and discussions about food, but ironically they can only think about only one thing – food. This ultimately leads to a vicious cycle of starvation and binge eating.

In order to regain control over their thought process, people with an ED distract themselves and try to stay away from stressful situations that can trigger their disordered eating behavior. Doing that is not easy as it sounds, but during a pandemic, staying on track in your fight against ED becomes exceptionally challenging. And that’s precisely what these patients have been experiencing ever since COVID-19 took over our lives.

The Pandemic, the Resulting Stress and Disordered Eating

The coronavirus outbreak has been exceedingly stressful and continues to be even more distressing due to the overriding uncertainty regarding the future. Nobody knows when the pandemic will end, if at all, and how long till a cure is concocted (see latest vaccine news here), and this suspense has almost everyone agitated.

But for people with mental health disorders, all this suspenseful stress has led to much graver consequences, such as aggravated symptoms since there are food scarcity scares, panic buying and the quarantine 15. Let’s go over some of the factors that are contributing to exacerbated ED symptoms.  

Contributors of Worsened ED Symptoms in the Pandemic 

The Corona-Anxiety

For some, corona-anxiety is the restlessness that comes from not knowing what the future holds coupled with the fear of getting the virus; for others, it’s a combination of general anxiety and individual struggles, such as increased disordered eating behavior.

Food Scarcity Scares and Panic Buying

Woman purchasing food during the COVID pandemic
Photo: CC-Pexels

Ever since the pandemic started, there have been speculations about a possible food shortage and subsequently prompted people to panic-buy and stockpiling groceries. The ever-running cycle of hoarding has been nothing but tough for people with Eating Disorders.

They are forced to think about a time without eatables, so they panic by purchasing food but then when they are in the supermarket, it triggers unhealthy binge-eating patterns.  

The Pandemic Fifteen

Staying home most of the time means increased exposure to social media and its triggering content, making life for people with eating disorders a living hell. And the concept of pandemic fifteen is a result of the harmful, stereotypical body-shaming ideas that the media puts out.

Essentially, it’s a rather bleak take on “freshman fifteen,” which refers to the weight (15 lbs.) a freshman in college puts on during their first year. People are now using that term with regard to the pandemic by calling it the pandemic fifteen or quarantine 15, referring to the most likely chance of weight gain during this global crisis.  

Social Distancing and Restrictions

For many ED patients, social restrictions have added fuel to the fire as they cannot have regular sessions with their therapist or meet with friends and family for support. The lack of social interaction means people with eating disorders are left alone with their thoughts that can overwhelm them and an abundance of food in the pantry, setting the perfect storm for eating disorders to go rampant. 

If you struggle with disordered eating, you should consider the following tips to take control back from your illness.

How to Cope with Eating Disorders during the Pandemic?

Sandwich with measuring tape around it
Losing weight with the Paleo diet. Photo: CC Pixaby

Recovery can be different for different people. For some, not eating another piece of chocolate during a binge-eating session may be a step towards recovery, while for others, it could be not working out when all they want to do is over exercise.

 So while everyone has their individual battles to fight, some universal measures can help people with EDs stay in control of their illness during the pandemic.

Seek Help

Seeking professional help may seem like a tall order due to all the restrictions in place, but you can do that virtually. Go online, and look up counselors and experts who can help you stay on the path to recovery.

Couple talking to a medical professional
Photo: Unsplash-080620-tim-gouw-bwki71ap-y8

You can (and should) ask your present therapist (if you have one) if they can connect with you through a video calling software so that you can keep up with your sessions. You should also inquire if there’s an expert close to your area who would give in-person private sessions.

Regardless of which route you choose to get help for your eating disorder, you must look for resources to guide you through this difficult time.

Chalk Out an Eating Routine

To avoid binge eating and then compensating for that, you should consider setting up a daily eating routine. But that doesn’t mean you start practicing restrictive dieting; that’s not what we meant.

When we say an eating routine, we mean to set a time to have your meals every day so that you don’t go without eating for long durations and end up overstuffing. But don’t get too strict with the regime. If some days you eat out of your scheduler, don’t beat yourself up or resort to compensatory measures such as starving the next day or over-exercising.

Join an Online Support Group

Living in the era of technology has its perks, and the biggest of them is being able to connect with people online. Use the internet to get in touch with other ED patients so that you have people to share your struggles with.

Joining a digital ED community will also help you stay on track with your recovery and reduce the chance of relapse.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has an extensive array of online forumsvirtual support groupsonline peer communities, recovery mentors, and live meal support to help ED patients for free or at a low cost. Engage with any of the NEDA platforms to keep your disordered eating patterns in check.

Ending Note

We understand that it’s easier said than done, but try to love yourself and look at food as fuel for the body and not a reward or punishment. What you see on social media is not necessarily true, so stop comparing yourself with others.

Remember that you are living through a pandemic. Focus on being alive and happy instead of how you should look because that’s the societal standard of beauty.

Woman jumping with happieness
Photo: CC Pxhere

 

9 Surprising Benefits of Curry Leaves

Curry Leaves

So you think you’ve had heard enough of weight loss and ingredients that will boost your health! Well, fret no more, because here is another natural entity that is known to help you to lose weight and keep you healthy.

Whether it’s fried lentils or fish curry, the aromatic and flavorsome curry leaves are an essential ingredient of South Asian cuisine. The Indian and Thai curries are practically incomplete without the strong and pleasing aroma of this plant. But very few people know that this distinct flavor is packed with numerous health benefits. 

Curry leaves are considered to be a rich source of Vitamin A, B and C. They are rich in iron and calcium as well. Let’s take a look at what curry leaves can do for you.

Aids in Weight Loss 

Checking Waistline

Curry leaves aid in weight loss. Sounds surprising? This is the normal reaction when people find out that curry leaves is a special ingredient which can help you lose weight. The plant compound known as carbazole alkaloid helps in weight loss by burning stubborn fats stored in the body. Also, the antioxidants present in curry leaves help wash out the toxin stored in different parts of the body. Together, it is reflected through weight loss. 

In order to lose weight, you need to increase the consumption of curry leaves. Using them as a topping on salads or curries might not be enough to lose weight. Instead, it should be a regular part of your meal. You can simplify much on dried curry leaves or can add them lavishly to your meals. For better results, combine the use of curry leaves with regular exercise and a healthier diet.  

Stimulate Digestive Enzymes 

The Digestive System

The plant compounds present in curry leaves aid in digestion. They work by stimulating digestive enzymes which in turn improves metabolic activity and bowel movement. So if you are someone who gets constipation or diarrhea often, then curry leaves are your lifesaver. 

For best results, you can simply chew on fresh curry leaves on an empty stomach.  Other ways to consume curry leaves is to add dried leaves to buttermilk. Again, you need to use this mixture on an empty stomach. Drinking this mixture can help relieve numerous problems of the digestive system including diarrhea and constipation. 

Helps Relieve Nausea

Nausea is a common condition among pregnant women. Curry leaves are considered to be a natural relief from nausea and morning sickness associated with pregnancy. Since curry leaves enhance the functioning of digestive enzymes, it helps relieve nausea and morning sickness. 

Many people chew fresh curry leaves while others notice an improvement in their symptoms simply by the strong and refreshing aroma of curry leaves.  

Reduce Blood Sugar Levels 

Curry leaves are a natural way to control blood sugar levels. If consumed regularly, curry leaves have a dual mode of action when it comes to controlling blood sugar levels. Curry leaves stimulate the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Also, curry leaves prevent the pancreas from the damage caused by free radicals. 

Together, both these actions work favorably in controlling the blood sugar levels and delaying the onset of conditions such as diabetes. In case, you already have diabetes, regular use of curry leaves can help keep your blood sugar levels under control. 

Heals Wounds and Skin Infections 

Curry leaves are rich in antioxidants and possess antibacterial properties. This makes them an excellent topical antibiotic which is very effective for healing wounds and skin infections. 

In case of a wound which is not too deep, you can apply a paste made up of curry leaves. You can add a little water to get the right consistency. Apply the paste over the wound and leave it overnight. The plant compounds present in curry leaves enhances the skin restoration process. It also helps restore the hair growth in the affected area. Due to the antibacterial properties, the use of curry leaves paste is recommended for inflammation on the skin, skin boils and even first degree burns. 

Improves Hair Growth 

As mentioned earlier, curry leaves can improve hair growth. They are not only effective in repairing hair after skin damage skin but also stimulate the growth of normal hair. It works by stimulating the hair follicle which promotes the growth of healthy and strong hair. 

Curry leaves are equally effective against hair loss or early greying of hair. In case of some skin conditions, such as dandruff, use of curry leaves paste is recommended. But in case of some serious medical condition, it is best to consult a dermatologist. 

Protects Brain Health and Improves Memory

Brain Motor & Sensory Perception Illustrated

Regular consumption of curry leaves can significantly improve memory. Though there is limited evidence of this claim, research indicates the plant compounds present in curry leaves may help protect the health of your brain and other parts of the nervous system. 

A research was conducted to find out the effect of using curry leaves on Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurological disease. The results indicated that regular use of curry leaves reduces the amount of oxidative damage in the brain cells. Oxidative damage in the brain is associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s’ disease. 

Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases 

High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases including angina and heart attacks. Curry leaves may improve your heart health in multiple ways. Research indicates that the use of curry levels can help reduce cholesterol and the level of triglycerides. As a result, it protects your heart’s health. 

May Have Anti-Cancer Ingredients

While it might be too early to claim, there is undergoing research to find out the effect of curry leaves on different types of cancer. In an undergoing laboratory research curry leaves have been found to be effective against cells of breast and cervical cancer. There is ongoing research on how curry leaves respond to other types of cancers such as colon and lung cancer. Though the research is currently in its initial stages, researchers are positive about the antioxidants present in curry leaves and their effect on cancer. 

Conclusion

It might be surprising that a simple kitchen ingredient can be packed with beneficial plant compounds. Research indicates that the antioxidant compounds present in curry leaves can help reduce weight and inflammation and minimize the risk of cancer and other inflammation related diseases. It is also known to protect the neurological and gastrointestinal health of a person. There are numerous other health benefits associated with the use of curry leaves. It reduces the risk of heart diseases by reducing cholesterol and also possess anti-cancer properties. 

But the best part is these tiny leaves can significantly enhance the taste and aroma and make even the most ordinary dish special. Curry leaves are easy to add to cuisine. You can find dried curry leaves which you can sprinkle over savory dishes. You can also use the fresh leaves, sauté them in oil and add to top your curries. Regardless of how you use curry leaves, this flavorful ingredient will transform the taste of your dish.

Can Bananas Help Weight Loss?

Ripe bananas against a yellow background

People have conflicting views on the weight-loss friendliness of bananas. Some say they aid weight loss, while some believe that they help weight gain. The constant bickering between the pro and anti-banana camps leave a layperson befuddled. Bananas are an excellent snack choice because they are filling and have a sweet taste that can feel like a delightful respite on a sugar-free diet. And even without a low-calorie diet, bananas can be a great snack option or a supplementary food item.

But when people get caught up in the calories of bananas, they lose sight of the many benefits of the fiber-rich food. And consequently, avoid eating bananas. However, a person shouldn’t cut bananas out of their diet entirely for fear of weight gain because they offer a bunch of nutrients that keep the body healthy.

Before passing a verdict on bananas’ ability to assist or inhibit weight loss, let’s consider the arguments of both the camps.

 The Pro-Banana Camp

The pro-banana camp supports eating bananas on a daily basis because they think it’s more good than bad. That is, even though bananas have calories, the excessive nutrients that a banana has to offer counter those calories. It’s packed with fiber that keeps a person fuller for longer during, hence reduces frequent food intake. And as a result, the overall calorie intake remains in control.

Some radical members of the camp may even believe that since bananas are rich in vitamins and minerals, the calories in the fruit are not harmful. There is no scientific study to support that argument, but some people continue to use the high nutrient count of bananas as an excuse to binge eat them.

One segment of the pro-banana camp, who are health-conscious, believe that on a strict diet, having a banana is an excellent way of satisfying sugar cravings with the added benefit of getting other nutrients as well.

Underripe bananas have high quantities of resistant starch, which doesn’t digest in the gut. And as a result, it floats in the blood and acts like soluble fiber, which helps in weight loss and reduces blood sugar. But that happens if you consume bananas that are a bit green. A person doesn’t have to eat an utterly unripe banana; just a bit of under-ripe banana can do the trick. However, more research is required to make a definitive claim to support resistant starch theory.

Bananas have a low to medium glycemic index, which is the ability of a food item to raise the blood sugar level. Not all bananas have a low glycemic index, but most of them do, depending on their ripeness. Slightly under-ripe bananas have a lower glycemic index than overripe bananas. Nonetheless, bananas don’t spike the sugar level in blood tremendously. So that’s also one reason why people like to eat bananas.

Bananas release their sugar slowly. That is, the body gets sugars from bananas at a linear pace; therefore, a person doesn’t feel an instant surge in the blood sugar levels after consuming a banana. High GI food items are linked with weight gain and diabetes. But since bananas have low to medium GI levels, they are considered to be weight loss friendly. No conclusive research is available to attest to these claims. More study on this aspect of bananas is required.

Now that we have gone over all the possible arguments played by the pro-banana camp let’s move on to the anti-banana camp now.

The Anti-Banana Camp

People in this camp are staunch believers in the fattening properties of bananas. They avoid bananas for fear of weight gain due to the high-calorie count in bananas. To better understand the calorie count of a banana, let’s take a look at the nutrient label of a medium-sized banana.

Calories 150
Potassium: 12% of the RDI
Vitamin B6: 20% of the RDI
Vitamin C: 17% of the RDI
Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
Copper: 5% of the RDI
Manganese: 15% of the RDI
Fiber: 3.1 grams

Most members of the anti-banana community steer clear of them in favor of other fruits that offer the same amount of nutrients without stacking up on calories such as apples. A cup of apple slices has about 60 calories, while a cup of banana slices has around 135 calories.

Furthermore, the source of calories in a banana is carbohydrates. Bananas aren’t high on fats, but it does have a high carb count. Most of the carbs in a banana are glucose, fructose, and sucrose, which are also sugar components. Sugar turns into body fat more quickly than other calorie sources.

However, things can be different in starch resistant food items as they release their sugar gradually in the body. So if a person works out and burns their calories, they don’t have to worry about the sugar in bananas turning into body fat.

Bananas have a bad rap in terms of their calorie content. People defame bananas based on their high-calorie content without considering the high fiber content of bananas, which can aid in weight loss.

What’s the Final Verdict?

Bananas are indeed high in calories, but they offer other healthy compounds and micronutrients. A person shouldn’t dismiss the nutritional benefits of bananas in fear of gaining weight due to the calories it has. If eaten wisely, a banana can add a lot of nourishment to a person’s diet.

With that said, bananas are not free food. Even though they are charged with nutrients, their calories are a reality. You cannot binge-eat bananas and expect to lose weight. But that’s true for most food items. As long as you take them in moderation, they can help you with your body/fitness goals.

Deciding on whether to include bananas in your diet depends on your goals and personal choice (do you like the taste of bananas?). If you want to lose weight, having a banana can sustain you for longer durations. So you can create a calorie deficit by not eating anything else after consuming a banana. But if you like to eat something at short intervals when dieting, then you might want to avoid eating bananas often.

Don’t completely rid your diet of bananas and don’t also include too many of them in your diet. Consume them in moderation, and you will be fine.

Can Green Tea Help Weight Loss?

The quest to lose weight is an exhausting task that can go on for days on end. Obese people try everything in their power to burn layers of fat on as quickly as possible, but alas! It’s a time-consuming process. As easy as it is to gain weight, shedding it can be quite a piece of work. And during the trying times when a person is working hard towards their body goals, they always try to find potions to weasel their way into the land of slenderness. And much to the chagrin of trainers and dieticians, the internet serves multiple untested shortcuts to weight loss. Out of all those unreliable schemes, the one that stands out the most is green tea. With that said, green tea might not be as unreliable as the other dubious shortcuts that obese people are bombarded with.

Green tea is famous for helping with cardiac conditions and also known for weight loss, and even experts are in favor of using the green elixir to accelerate weight loss. But what is the science behind the apparent benefits of green tea? Is it helpful, or is it just a hoax that tea manufacturers use to sell their products? Let’s find out.

Caffeine in Green Tea

Even though the caffeine content in green isn’t as high as coffee, that is enough to stimulate fat-burning in the body.

Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that has proven to aid weight loss in the body. It is due to the fat-burning properties of caffeine that experts advise obese people to consume black coffee when trying to lose weight.

Green tea contains active compounds such as EGCG, those along with caffeine are supposed to help people in their quest to get in shape and lose unhealthy pounds in their body combined with other weight loss techniques.

EGCG in Green Tea

Green tea is high in EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is believed to promote and aid fat breakdown. Accumulated fat needs to break down into fat cells that are later used as energy packets to carry out essential bodily functions.   

Fat breakdown in the body is brought about when fat-burning hormones such as norepinephrine (noradrenaline) disintegrate long fatty chains and reduce them into cells that are released into the blood. EGCG in green tea boosts the effects of fat-burning hormones that accelerate the entire process of fat breakdown.

EGCG released from consuming green tea inhibits enzymes that promote the activity carried by these hormones. Ultimately, the broken down fat is released into the bloodstream as used by different organs and cells in the body.

Green Tea Helps Fat Burning During Workouts

Woman doing yoga

If you have ever tried a fat-burning supplement, then you must have seen green tea extracts on its label. That is because green tea is charged with active compounds that help fat burning, especially during exercise.

According to a study, men who consumed the tea extracts combined with regular exercise burned 17% more body fat than men who didn’t drink green tea extracts. A bunch of other studies also indicate that active compounds in green tea stimulate fat burning when taken with exercise.

Green Tea Boosts Metabolism

A person’s body is constantly using up calories even when there is no physically strenuous activity. Our body is conducting multiple processes at all times, which require energy and that can be acquired from calories.  

Many studies suggest that chemical compounds in green tea train the body into getting the needed energy for bodily processes from excess calories. EGCG in green tea helps burn calories even when your body is at rest.

Studies show that green tea supplements can increase the burning percentage by 3-4% and, in some cases, by 8%. However, more research is required to make a definitive claim regarding the ability of green tea to burn these calories even when the body is at rest.

Green Tea Curbs Appetite

Green tea helps weight loss by reducing a person’s appetite. That is, after consuming it, people don’t eat as much as they did before. Hence, they consume fewer calories overall, which can help widen the calorie deficit and lead to weight loss.

Weight loss is typically achieved by creating a calorie deficit in the body. A person trying to lose weight brings down their daily intake of calories or burn more calories in order to create a calorie shortfall. By creating a deficit, the body uses up stored fat in the body to meet its energy requirements, which brings down body fat and reduces weight.

When a person drinks green tea, they eat less than they used to before including green tea in their diet. And as a result, they consume fewer calories, which forces the body to use unwanted fat to get energy for various processes.

In a nutshell, green tea increases calorie expenditure in the body.

Green Tea Helps a Person Lose Belly Fat

Most people who are prompted to lose weight are irked by the muffin top protruding below the torso. And sadly, belly fat is the hardest form of fat to burn away with diet and exercise. However, green tea can help a person get rid of that paunch that they dislike so much.

There are two kinds of fat in the body. One is subcutaneous fat, and the other is visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the form of fat that is stored underneath the skin, while visceral fat is the fat that’s accumulated around the belly area.

While green tea may or may not be immensely useful in reducing excess pounds from the body, it does seem to be plenty helpful in burning body fat, especially visceral fat. Visceral fat doesn’t only damage the shape of one’s body, but it also increases the risk of diabetes and other such diseases by creating insulin resistance. It also increases the chances of inflammation in the body.

Having green tea regularly can save the body from developing harmful conditions by breaking down belly fat.

The Takeaway

Even though green tea shows immense promise with regard to weight loss in people, it cannot magically make you lean in a fraction of time. You need to take additional measures such as cutting down on carbs and increasing your protein intake to lose weight quicker.