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Living a healthy lifestyle is central to maintaining wellness throughout your lifetime. In fact, healthy habits not only help you to feel good and manage illness today, they can also help prevent future disease. There are many behaviors that influence your health - what you eat, how you sleep, if you smoke, how active you are, how you manage stress - to name just a few. You can improve your quality of life by making simple, positive changes to your daily routine.
Where to start?
We've collected useful facts and tips to inform, motivate and support steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Remember, small changes are powerful. Start today!
Botanical Name: Salvia Hispanica
Place of Origin: Mexico, Guatemala
Interesting fact: Chia seeds were considered cherished crops to the Aztec and Mayan civilizations, who identified it as a “super food” and held it with such high esteem that it was regularly used as currency.
Tiny seeds with big benefits:
~3 tablespoons (1 ounce) of chia seeds = 140 calories, 5g protein, 10g fiber
They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids (more than salmon!), calcium, antioxidants, and are gluten free
Absorbs up to 9-12 times its own weight creating a feeling of fullness
How to eat chia seeds:
Raw - sprinkle into a smoothie, salad, yogurt, oatmeal, or pudding
Baked - add to muffins and breads instead of flaxseeds or poppy seeds
Cooked - add to ground meat (grind chia seeds into flour and blend it into beef or turkey), pancakes, omelets, or stir fries
Cool Tips: Use chia seeds as a vegan-friendly egg replacer (1 egg = 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water). Chia gel (soaked chia seeds) can be used to bind veggie burger or as a thickener in soups.
Every April, health professionals bring attention to alcohol consumption through alcohol awareness month. Enjoyed in moderation along with healthy eating habits and regular physical activity has been associated with a variety of positive health outcomes. However, chronic and excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of chronic disease and mortality.
Rule of thumb: One drink is considered to be 12 oz beer, 5 oz glass of wine, 1.5 oz spirits or distilled alcohol.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, alcohol intake is advised to be limited at 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men for individuals of a legal drinking age. Light to moderate consumption can be favorable for increasing good cholesterol and combatting coronary heart disease. Such intakes are also associated with a decreased risk of atherosclerosis, inflammation, and blood clotting. These favorable health outcomes are due to the activity of polyphenols and flavonoids, which support positive antioxidant activity in the body.
Despite the health promoting effects of alcohol consumption, current guidelines do not encourage those who abstain from alcohol to start drinking. Consumed in excess, alcohol can be damaging to your health, increasing your risk of high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, and many forms of cancer. If watching your waistline, be wary of your overall intake! Alcohol, with no nutritional value and roughly 100 ‘empty’ calories per serving (without consideration of mixers!), can undoubtedly contribute to those few pesky pounds.
When consuming alcohol, it is best to enjoy beverages as a compliment to a delicious, healthy meal. Having food in your stomach will slow absorption of alcohol so that symptoms of intake are minimized. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking water, and while drinking spirits, pair with a water-based mixer. This will increase your water consumption while keeping added calories and sugars low! Enjoyed responsibly, alcohol consumption can be favorable to your overall well-being as part of a mindful, healthy lifestyle.
One of the first vegetables to rise from the soil in the spring is asparagus. And what a welcome sight! It adds a freshness and crunch to many dishes, from stir fries to plain roasted. Check out our recipe section for some ideas.
Long known for its medicinal properties, a single, five ounce serving contains only twenty calories and nearly sixty percent of the recommended daily allowance for folate. Folate is crucial for blood cell formation, growth, maintaining a healthy liver, and preventing neural tube defects. Asparagus also contains ample amounts of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. Recent research shows asparagus is a source of pre-biotics, which support healthy bacteria in the intestines.
When shopping for asparagus, choose firm yet tender spears. The tops should be green or purplish and tight and compact. Use within a couple of days.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, affects 10-15% of people in North America, according to some experts. Dietary treatment is highly individualized, but emerging research is focusing on a group of foods known by the acronym FODMAPs. That stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are all fermentable, short-chain carbohydrates. Still confused? Read on for the translation…
Fructose: foods high in this natural sugar may be poorly tolerated. Fructose, found mainly in fruit, is also found in high-fructose corn syrup, honey and agave. Berries, citrus fruit, pineapple, grapes and ripe bananas may be better tolerated. Pure sugar and maple syrup are good choices for sweeteners.
Lactose: intolerance to this carbohydrate, which is found in dairy products, is well known. Use lactose-free milk and ice cream. Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses may be better tolerated. Lactaid pills can assist in digesting dairy products.
Fructans: this little-known carbohydrate is contained in wheat, and can cause gas, bloating and pain. It is also found in two fiber additives: inulin and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides). Check food labels for their presence in foods.
Galactans: another carbohydrate that is poorly absorbed by humans. Dietary sources include lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, broccoli and soy-based products.
Polyols: otherwise known as sugar alcohols. These are contained in some fruits and vegetables, but often found in “sugar-free” products, such as gum, hard candies, cough drops and mints.
You can work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for a more complete list of FODMAPs and to create a meal plan for you. Keep in mind that the goal is not to eliminate these foods completely but to eat them in quantities that you can tolerate. Keeping a food diary will be helpful in pin-pointing foods and eating behaviors that cause discomfort.
What will the dietitian and I talk about during a nutrition assessment?
What is Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)?