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Top 10 Foods For Overall Good Health

All these foods can reduce the risk of getting cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases:
  • Flax seed
  • Soy products (tofu)
  • Wheat germ
  • All deep orange and red-colored vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Dark leafy green vegetables
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Fish rich in omega-3 oils (salmon, tuna)
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Avocado
Quick Tip. Instead of dressing you can add a few pieces of avocado and small olives into a salad for an easy way to add healthy fat into your diet. Beware of adding too many, which can add a lot of calories to your salad.

Candy Is Not Dandy

Try to skip or limit fat-laden sweets like candy bars: the quick rush of energy they provide is followed by a blood-sugar crash that can leave you feeling even more tired. If you are looking for convenience, it’s better to grad a nutrient bar-a protein or energy bar with about 16 grams of protein per serving. These bars give you more vitamins and minerals, plus carbohydrates, protein, and nutrients for energy, and they’re low fat. However, they are a supplement, which means you still need to eat a good, balanced diet and shouldn’t rely only on them to replace healthy foods. Another option: a medium-sized banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter.

Common Questions

  • What types of vitamins should I take?
    You should add multivitamin whit minerals (such as One-a-Day for women or men) to your daily diet, because, let’s face it, most diets-even those that are well-balanced-may not provide all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. For women, in particular, a multivitamin helps ensure that you’re getting enough calcium, iron, and folic acid or folate (important for women planning to have children to prevent certain birth defects). Make sure the multivitamin you take has close to 100 percent of the daily value (RDA) of most vitamins and minerals. One thing to realize: unless you are deficient in a particular nutrient, mega dosing on vitamins won’t help to increase your energy or help relieve fatigue and may leave you with an upset stomach or, even worse, a toxic reaction.
  • Well then, what kinds of supplements do I need?
    Above and beyond the daily multivitamin, you may benefit from taking certain vitamins in higher levels to compensate for particular deficiencies:
    Vitamin C (60 mg RDA): this vitamin is a very important antioxidant and 1.000 mg of vitamin C per day by mouth can help with sun damage or sun exposure. Because vitamin C is water-soluble, the body will excrete what it cannot use or absorb. The maximum amount of vitamin C an adult can absorb daily is 1.200 mg: achieving this usually requires 3 grams of oral intake of vitamin C (which is not recommended). If you are fighting off a cold or have a depressed immune system, you can take a vitamin C supplement of 500 to 1.000 mg per day.
    Vitamin D (400 IU RDA): vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the body manufactures the vitamin after being exposed to sunlight. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure three times weekly is adequate to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D.
    Vitamin E (30 IU RDA): another important, vitamin E-like vitamin A-is fat-soluble, so the body stores what it doesn’t utilize. Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties can help cardiovascular health by preventing cholesterol buildup in the artery walls. Vitamin E is also important for supple skin. Too much vitamin E cause stomach upset and dizziness or even toxicity.
    Thiamin (1.1 mg RDA): thiamin helps enzymes metabolize carbohydrates and helps with nerve function. It is essential for normal development, growth, reproduction, physical performance, and well-being.
    Pycnogenol: this powerful antioxidant can be found in certain vitamins.
    Coenzyme Q-10: this enzyme also has potent antioxidant properties and is readily available as a supplement.
    Riboflavin (1.3 mg RDA): this growth-promoting member of the vitamin B complex family facilitates metabolic reactions.
    Niacin (15 mg RDA): Niacin, an essential vitamin in the body, helps to metabolize energy as well as to break down and synthesize fats.
    B6 (1.6 mg RDA): this water-soluble vitamin helps in protein metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, and hemoglobin synthesis. Be careful not to overdose on your B vitamins. Studies show that greater than 100 mg of B6 may damage nerves in arms, legs, hands, and feet. Keep your dosage of B6 under 50 to 100 milligrams per day.
    B-12 (2.0 mg RDA): this co-enzyme is necessary to metabolize fats; it also helps in nerve function and red blood cell formation.
    Folate (200 mg RDA): this co-enzyme (also called folic acid) is involved in DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation. The RDA for women of childbearing years is 400 mg to help prevent certain birth defects.
  • What are antioxidants and why do I need them?
    Antioxidants are compounds that can give your body a boost in deactivating harmful chemicals in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals are formed daily through normal body processes. They are also generated by environmental pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, automobile exhaust, and radiation.
    Quick Tip. It is good idea to accumulate your sources of antioxidants from food rather than from supplements. The reason? You can get toxic doses of the vitamins over an extended period of time, especially vitamin E and selenium. In addition, foods contain other beneficial nutrients, providing a combined effect, whereas a supplements provides only the nutrient identified.
    Free radicals are unstable compounds that can attack and injure vital cell structures. Certain vitamins and minerals help our bodies to deactivate and minimize free- radical reactions within our cells. They also help with repairing the sun related damage caused by free radicals and may also reduce the risk cancers. These antioxidants are:
    Beta Carotene: Found in orange and green fruits and vegetables (spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, apricots, and cantaloupe)
    Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, broccoli, green and red peppers, and strawberries
    Vitamin E: Vegetable oils, almonds, wheat germ, peanuts, sunflower and sesame seeds
    Selenium: Seafood, meats, eggs, milk, whole grains, and garlic.
  • I’ve been hearing a lot about both green and black teas. What’s the deal?
    Both green and black teas have naturally occurring antioxidants. In recent studies, chemicals derived from green tea have stopped the growth of mouse skin cancers, reduced the incidence of lung cancer in mice exposed to tobacco carcinogens, lowered LDL (cholesterol) levels, and reduced blood clots in mice. In 1997, scientists at the university of Kansas found that green tea contains possible cancer prevention, an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate. To boost health benefits, don’t add milk to green tea: the antioxidant loses its potency when it binds with mild proteins. Take green tea capsules if you don’t want the caffeine.
  • What is the food guide pyramid and how can I use it?
    The food guide pyramid is a general guide to daily food choices and is not an individualized diet for a specific person. It provides a general reference point regarding how many servings as well as the size of a serving for each food group the average individual may need per day. Here is a basic guide:
    Starches/grains   6 to 11 servings
    Fruits   2 to 4 servings
    Vegetables   3 to 5 servings
    Protein   2 to 3 servings
    Dairy   2 to 3 servings
    Oils, sweets, alcohol   Use sparingly
  • Can I eat low-protein diet and still function well?
    If your diet lacks protein, it is probably also deficient in zinc and iron, because animal protein is a good source for all three nutrients. By eating a diet with enough protein (65 mg per day, or 2 to 3 servings of 4 to 6 ounces), you’ll help your body build repair muscle tissue and body cells. By not eating enough protein, you can become malnourished, which can lead to illness, fatigue, and decreased concentration. Not sure about portion size?
    Quick Tip. Eating a little protein at each meal (i.e., a balanced meal as opposed to only a bowl of pasta) can increase production of brain chemicals that foster alertness. Any proteins will help, but protein that is low in fat is healthier and will not leave you feeling as full and lethargic, because fat slows digestion. Try fish, skinless chicken, very lean beef, or low-fat yogurt.
    As a frame of reference, the size of a deck of cards is equivalent to about 3 ounces. Everyone needs certain amino acids, the building blocks of protein. If the diet doesn’t provide these essential amino acids, over time the body breaks down its own muscle mass, with the consequences mentioned above. Deficient protein means deficient iron and zinc, which weakens the body and makes it more susceptible to illness.
  • How can I increase iron in my diet?
    You can get more iron in your body diet by increasing your protein intake, eating iron-fortified foods, and taking a multivitamin. Many women need extra iron during their menstrual cycle, because when they bleed heavily they lose blood and therefore iron. Good courses of iron include: dark meats, seafood, milk and cheese, and iron-fortified cereals and breads. Plant sources of iron (iron-fortified cereals and breads, raisins, nuts, seeds, broccoli, prune juice) should be eaten with animal products or foods containing vitamin C to increase the iron’s availability to your system. Drinking caffeinated coffee or tea interferes with iron absorption from these sources.
  • What are the best foods for energy?
    The best foods for increasing energy are complex carbohydrates: whole grain foods such as whole grain bread, bulgar, and oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes, and yams, fruits, and vegetables (which are less complex but still a good source for a quick boost of energy), as well as many vitamins and minerals. Unlike soda or candy, which resulting a quick rush of sugar and then cash, trese carbohydrates (carbs) provide a good energy source and a bunch of nutrients.
  • Do the new low-carbohydrate diets work?
    Avoid low-carb diets. They are usually inadequate in complex carbs, vitamins, and minerals and ultimately will leave you feeling tired.
    When you lose weight from these diets, much of it is from water loss. Another problem with these types of diets is that most people can’t sustain eating this way for a long period of time, so they end up gaining all the weight back.
  • How much fiber do I need?
    You need fiber, because it’s what helps to clean out yours system. Generally 25 to 35 grams per day is recommended. Breads are good sources of fiber if you choose wisely; when shopping for high-fiber bread, check the ingredient list. Avoid breads that list “enriched wheat flour”- even though the label may say “high fiber”, nutrients are stripped out and then “enriched” back in. to ensure that your bread is a good source of fiber, look for unprocessed whole grain products with 100 percent whole wheat on the ingredient list.
  • What about the bloating I get when I eat fiber?
    Many people go to extremes when it comes to fiber intake. They often take in very little fiber at first, and then start a high-fiber diet too quickly. Their system simply haven’t gotten a chance to get used to the added fiber, so they get bloated and gassy. The solution is to increase your fiber intake slowly. Also, most people don’t realize that fiber doesn’t work without water. Water pulls the fiber through your system, moving things along through the digestive system more easily and quickly and avoiding constipation. If you don’t drink enough water, the fiber simply collects, loading down your system.
  • How much water do I need to drink? I’m not a camel!
    Relax. You don’t need to drink until you can’t hold anymore. Instead, follow this rule of thumb: if you are making more than one trip to the bathroom an hour, you’re probably drinking too much for your body to handle, or for it to do your skin any good.
    Quick Tip. Are you drinking enough water? Check your urine. If it is dark yellow, this may be an indication that your body doesn’t have enough water and is conserving it. If you are drinking enough water and eating enough fruit and vegetables (which are 75 to 95 percent water), urine will be clear and plentiful. Also, if you don’t drink enough water, you skin won’t be as supple or elastic as it can be and very-thing you eat is digested less efficiently.
    Once your body is hydrated, no more moisture can get to your skin internally. When the body has become saturated, the kidneys, which are the prime filters of the blood and “balancers” of the body’s water lever, will excrete any additional fluids that enter the body. Instead, you can further hydrate your skin by applying a topical moisturizer over damp skin.
  • How does alcohol (the kind you drink) affect your skin?
    If you drink alcoholic beverages in excess, it shows up in a sallow complexion, puffy face, and red eyes. Why? Because alcohol dehydrates your skin and causes blood vessels to dilate, creating puffiness under the eyelids and a generally puffy appearance.
    Quick Tip. It’s a good idea to drink an extra cup of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume to help prevent dehydration (one of the causes of hangovers!).
    Drinking alcohol can also worsen a rosacea condition. Here are some of the other unattractive effects of alcohol:
    A lowered resting muscle tone, which can make your face look drawn.
    Because of its dilating effects, alcohol causes increased leakage of the blood vessels and capillaries, especially under the eyes, leading to puffiness of the lower eyelids.
    Alcohol depresses the immune system, affecting the body’s ability to fight off any low-level acne-type bacterial infections.
    Alcohol also decreases absorption of several vitamins.
    That’s not to say nobody should ever have a drink. In fact, recent studies have suggested that drinking one glass of wine a day may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • I’ve been hearing a lot about my BMI. What is it?
    Both men and women can check their BMI (body mass index) to determine whether their weight is appropriate for their height (see MBI formula below). You can also use it to determine if you are seriously overweight and to estimate your risk of weight-related disease. The numbers are not foolproof. Some very muscular people may have a high BMI without health risk. Regardless of your BMI, if your waist is larger than 35 inches (if you’re a woman, larger than 40 inches in a men), you have an increased risk of heard disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
    BMI formula
    BMI = weight (pounds) divided by height (inches) squared and multiplied by 705.
    Example: A 5’9 (69’) woman weighing 145 pounds would do this formula as:
    145 divided by 69 squared (4761) = .0304557, multiplied by 705 = 21.47
    A BMI of 25 to 29 usually indicates a person is overweight (where risk to health begins); a BMI of 30 or more usually indicates a person is obese. The most desirable BMI is in the 19 to 24 ranges.

From "Beautiful Skin" by David E. Bank, M.D., with Estelle Sobel

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