Therapist’s Advice On Pinpointing Fad Diets

As a chubby kid all my life, I felt drawn towards fad diets that I saw on TV. I was highly impressionable and naïve back then, so I revered every person who claimed to be a weight-loss guru. They made me feel like they held the key to my problematic love for foods.

My parents already advised me against following fad diets before. They told me that those programs were created by people who wanted to be famous and get a quick buck. “Instead of going through all that trouble, you need to watch your food intake and exercise more,” they said.

Of course, since I was both naïve and stubborn, I did not listen to mom and dad. I kept buying modern food options like quinoa, black rice, vegan chicken, and whatnot. As with all the trendy stuff taking the limelight, though, such diets did nothing but damage my savings since their effects were not long-term.

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Depressed, I decided to open up about my dilemma to a therapist. She explained that I fell into the trap of fad diets due to my desire to lose weight without working out too much. “However,” she said, “We need to work hard for everything we want to achieve in life. There is no such thing as a quick and permanent fix – especially not when it comes to changing your body.”

I understood what the therapist meant. Of course, I had always known that weight loss wouldn’t happen overnight; that’s why I never bought slimming pills or teas like many others. Despite that, I hoped that a new way of dieting would do me good. But it did not. So, I had to ask my therapist, “How do you think I can avoid getting lured by fad diets that do not work?”

The therapist gave me a list of things to look for in a new diet before trying it.

Guru’s Credibility

The first thing to check is the credibility of the people who supposedly created the programs. Meaning, are they nutritionists, dieticians, or food scientists? Are they in the medical field at all?

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If someone who claims to be a guru has any of those labels, there is a high chance that the fad diet is real. They have profound knowledge about food and what it does to the body, after all. If they talk about a particular diet, extensive research must have been introduced to the public.

However, you should be wary of individuals who thought that being obese or overweight in the past made them experts at dieting. It does not work like that – and it never did. If anything, they could share tips and tricks that could have a detrimental effect on your health in the future.

Peer Review

Fad diets that are only meant to be cash grabs do not get reviewed by professionals. I know because I researched the programs I already tried and realized that the studies they presented were created mainly by them. The fact that no other expert backed up their claim could entail that they were afraid to ask for a peer review or not pass the reviews.

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Meanwhile, real diets have multiple distinguished individuals supporting them. Researchers who adopted the idea for their studies can come from nutritional experts who aimed to determine if they genuinely work.

You need to focus on the latter since they can help with your weight-loss goals.

Lack Of False Promises

When I was younger, I got hooked by grand statements that practically promised me the world. One said that I could go from size 16 to size 12 in a month; another stressed that the diet would keep me from gaining weight ever again. But the most common claim was that it was the quick fix I had been waiting for my entire life.

Quick fix, my foot. Those were false promises that desperate people like I used to tend to gobble up. The so-called gurus knew about the desperation, and they chose the most enticing words. So, if you see anyone saying something too good to be true, you better believe it’s baseless.

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No Requirement To Avoid A Certain Food Group

Dieticians and nutritionists do not recommend swearing off a specific food group because all groups provide nutrients and minerals that others don’t. You need a little bit of everything on your plate three times a day. Otherwise, you may experience nutritional insufficiency, which can lead to the development of other conditions.

I wish I had known this information in the past. No thanks to fad diets; I tried not eating meat or anything with carbohydrates, making me lethargic and grumpy. I also craved foods I was not supposed to have since I got deprived of them for a long time. It resulted in me gaining weight instead of losing any.

 

Moral Lesson: Listen to the real experts, not to so-called gurus who want your money.

Therapy For People Who Love Weight-Loss Fads

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My mother had a best friend who I grew up calling Aunt M. She was a fixture in our house when I was young. If there were a family party, she would always be there.

I remembered asking my mother why they were very close, and she said that it’s because Aunt M did not have the best relationship with her family. “She saw my parents as her parents, so we are practically like sisters now.”

Aunt M eventually became a role model in my eyes. She was a gorgeous Afro that never seemed to go out of place. Her clothing style is elegant yet practical. More importantly, she had smooth skin and a fit figure. I told myself that I would grow up like Aunt M and become as confident as her.

Troubles In Her Life

I was already in sixth grade when Aunt M got married. I thought that Peter was friendly and funny, and he cared for her the way I saw my dad care for my mom. I liked Peter more when he agreed to let me be a young bridesmaid at their wedding.

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Not long after the marriage, Aunt M announced that she was pregnant – with twins, no less. I felt excited because it had been a long time since we had babies around. Even if they won’t live in my house, I figured Aunt M would come by often, so I could play with them.

When the twins arrived in Aunt M’s life, I expected her to be more radiant than ever. I honestly thought she got motherhood down to the T, considering she often babysat me and received tips from all the mothers she knew. So, I felt surprised and bothered when I overheard her telling my mother – who also happened to be a therapist – that she felt lost and ugly since she gained a lot of weight.

Having gone through childbirth, mom advised Aunt M to let her emotions out and understand that things would get better after a few months. “You’ll have to put in a lot of work, for sure, but I believe that you can cinch your body in no time,” mom said encouragingly.

Aunt M exercised for a bit, but she grew frustrated because it was not working as fast as she wanted. That’s when she found the first fad diet that required her to avoid carbohydrates.

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Now, if you have no idea about what carbohydrates do to the body, you should know that they are essential energy sources. Without them, your body will try to generate energy from fats, causing ketones to be released. Although nothing happened to the babies that Aunt M breastfed, it made her highly hypoglycemic and had her brought to the hospital.

Did that scare the woman away from fad diets? No. If anything, it made Aunt M want to go through every program out there to see what worked best. This odd kind of addiction went on until her husband begged my mother to perform an intervention on her. Peter was afraid that Aunt M was about to lose it because she was no longer getting enough nutrition in her body.

How Can You Make People Stop Embracing Fad Diets Too Much?

The first thing that mom did that hit Aunt M with facts about fad diets. She pointed out that her best friend followed everything the programs asked for, but to no avail. There were also no other experts claiming that they were helpful. It meant that the problem was not Aunt M but the diets themselves.

Did Aunt M accept that immediately? Of course not. She knew that not all of them worked, but she remained hopeful that something would in the future.

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Mom had a tough time getting Aunt M to stop even thinking about fad diets. Her goal was to help her best friend get rid of the idea that those programs could resolve her weight issues quickly and permanently. Even if I was young back then, I knew that mom was correct, so I did not understand why Aunt M refused to get it.

When A Breakthrough Happened

Therapy became fruitful one day when Aunt M revealed that she got hooked on fad diets since her confidence level tanked as she put on a lot of weight. She worried about everything – from being undesirable in her husband’s eyes to not having enough energy to keep up with her twins.

This breakthrough made it easier for my mother to help Aunt M. They worked together to boost the latter’s self-confidence. As a therapist, mom asked her to keep a journal and write everything in her mind whenever she felt insecure. As a best friend and sister for life, mom accompanied her to the gym and whatever physical activity that Aunt M wanted to try.

Aunt M’s need for therapy came to a close when she felt confident in herself again.

 

Natural Foods Your Counselor Would Most Likely Recommend

Food is the fuel that keeps our body moving up and about every day. It also gives our brain the energy to think and make decisions. Therefore, we need to be very mindful of what we eat if we want to be healthy in both body and mind.

During your next visit to your counselor, you might want to ask for natural food recommendations from them. Counselors are not just specialized in talking with you; they are also very familiar with other methods that can help improve your mental health. This includes even our daily meals.

The Relationship Of Food And Mental Health

A person’s diet is not just about physical health. Recent research suggests that diet plays an important role in a person’s mental health as well. The involvement of diet in counseling and therapy is more commonly known as nutritional psychiatry.

Eating is already connected to our mental state because of the pleasure we get from it. When we eat and get full, our body reacts by releasing dopamine for our brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and euphoria. That is why most people find pleasure in overeating. The good thing is, we don’t have to overeat our way into happiness. Below are natural foods your counselor is likely to recommend to help improve your mental health.

Boost Your Mood And Help With Depression

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  • Eggs

The protein in eggs contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid involved in the creation of proteins. It is mainly used by the body to produce melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps maintain a good sleep cycle, while serotonin is a hormone that stabilizes our mood and happiness.

  • Whole Grains

Carbohydrates are known to promote serotonin production. But is it enough to go and get any carb out there? Your counselor would most likely suggest you getting whole grains as a carb source. Aside from its tryptophan content, whole grains give you a fuller feeling which lasts longer than simple carbohydrates. Whole grains are great against hunger pangs. Brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and quinoa are examples of this food.

  • Pineapple

It might look very intimidating to prepare, but push yourself into exploring the many benefits of the pineapple. Known for the serotonin boost it gives, this sweet tropical fruit isn’t just there to refresh our taste buds. It’s also loaded with lots of vitamins and nutrients. Filled with vitamin C, pineapples help collagen formation, strengthen our immune system, and absorb iron. It is also a fantastic source of bromelain, good for osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases, among other diseases.

Keep Anxiety At Bay

  • Berries

If you are having trouble with anxiety and keeping your stress levels low, your counselor may recommend that you include berries in your diet. A lowered total antioxidant state is somewhat being correlated with anxiety. Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, these little fruits help combat stress. The antioxidants found in berries are also helpful in reducing the risks of heart diseases and certain cancers.

  • Turmeric

A relative of ginger, turmeric, is usually found in its ground, powdered form. This bright yellow powder can be used as a spice in cooking, or you can create turmeric tea by dissolving it directly in hot water. Turmeric contains Curcumin, a bioactive compound that possesses anti-inflammatory qualities. Curcumin is also linked to producing serotonin and dopamine levels. Hence, it is highly suggested by counselors in controlling anxiety and depression. 

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  • Chamomile Tea

Last on this list is the well-known tea for calming and relaxation. Chamomile, an herb with a daisy-like flower, is an Asian plant famous for its calm-inducing properties. It contains apigenin, an antioxidant that promotes sleepiness and helps against insomnia. If you are experiencing anxiety attacks in the middle of the day, try brewing a cup of chamomile tea. It also helps with upset stomach and inflammation; it’s good to have this around the house or in your office. Also, chamomile contains no caffeine at all. So if you are trying to avoid, or reduce, caffeine intake, chamomile tea is highly recommended as an alternative.

Stay Focused

If you are having trouble focusing at school or work, there are certain foods your counselor can suggest to help you keep a sharp mind. Fatty fish are booming with omega-3 fatty acids. Mostly looked up for its benefit to heart health, omega-3 is also found to be very helpful in studying and keeping focus. The brain uses Omega-3 in creating nerve cells and maintaining normal brain function, which is related to learning and memory. Fatty fish includes salmon, sardine, and cod. Having two to three meals a week of fatty fish can keep a healthy brain in the long run.

  • Leafy Greens

It is no secret that eating leafy greens is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. What some might not know is that leafy greens also contain flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant metabolites that are thought to promote good memory, learning, and cognitive function. Leafy greens that contain the most amount of flavonoids are kale, parsley, and lettuce. Aside from mental boosts, flavonoids are also linked to protecting against certain cancers due to their antioxidant activity.

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  • Avocados

Last on this series of natural foods for mental health are avocados. These contain higher amounts of potassium than bananas. And they also help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But one particular component found in avocados is also beneficial for mental focus, and that is lutein. Lutein is a very important compound used by our brains, and multiple studies have linked a lutein-rich brain to good memory, learning, language, and executive functions. Although still in its preliminary studies, grabbing an avocado while on your study break still is a great alternative to processed snacks.

You might think that the food you eat would not impact your mental health. However, if you note what each food item can do for you and your body, you’ll know that food benefits us in many different ways. You’ll also know which foods to avoid to keep healthy. Please note the food items and their functions that we discussed, stay away from food that’s not good for you, and stay healthy!

How To Develop A Healthy Mind With Natural Food And Counseling

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There are no shortcuts to having a healthy mind. It will take consistent effort and well-thought-out decisions on your part to achieve this. But before anything, you have to understand first what your brain is and what it needs.

We often forget the brain is a part of our body. It’s as much an organ like any other that we have inside us. Naturally, the state of our mental well-being will depend on our lifestyle and habits. What we eat affects how our mind functions, as it affects our heart or lungs. What we do to alleviate stress on the brain will have its consequences as well.

Think about how you take care of your kidneys. Doctors will tell you to avoid alcohol and soda and to drink plenty of water instead. Similarly, there are also types of food better suited to help with your mental health. Remember what others tell you when you carry a heavy bag daily. Didn’t they suggest that you lessen the load to ease the stress off your back?

It’s the same when it comes to our minds. If we want to become healthy, we need to eat the right food and do the right things. There’s no silver bullet to solve our mental health problems instantly. However, there are choices we can make to move towards this goal.

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Go Natural For Your Brain

Just like with our other organs, we also need to eat clean to have a healthy mind. Avoid processed food and opt for healthier alternatives. Eating good food will improve your overall health overall and will also affect how you feel.

Natural foods include vegetables, fruits, seeds, herbs, seafood, meat, and whole grains. They have properties capable of regulating mood, curbing depression, and aiding in nutrient absorption. In addition, some of these foods can also regulate energy levels and encourage increased brain activity.

On the other hand, processed foods and sugar can cause inflammation within your body and brain. This can then contribute to mood disorders and hyperactivity. Studies have also shown that a terrible diet can exacerbate depression and may cause unusual energy fluctuations.

A diet consisting of processed and junk food is bound to mess with your stomach too. When you experience the stress caused by your unbalanced diet, it subdues the bacteria in your gut. Gut bacteria produce serotonin or mood stabilizers in our bodies. Processed foods, flour, and sugar can also cause cravings, making you consume them even more.

You don’t need to go on a crazy and limited diet. Start by being more mindful of what you eat and even when you eat. Then, try to focus on how you feel when you eat healthy foods. You can change your diet little by little, like going for an apple instead of a candy bar. If you feel unsure, remember that you can never go wrong with the healthier option.

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Counseling For A Lighter Mind

Caring for your mental wellbeing is a multi-step process. Along with being mindful of what you eat, you should also pay attention to the mental weight you bear. After all, bananas and oranges alone can’t save you from thoughts you’re drowning in.

Your struggles are a big part of your life, but they don’t define you. However, since we often associate resilience and independence with strength, we tend to just power through our internal struggles. Sometimes we resort to ignoring the problem. Other times, we busy ourselves with distractions and other commitments. These will do nothing but worsen how you feel.

It’s okay to ask for help. It might be obvious, yet some people choose not to get help because they think they’ll look weak. But they couldn’t be further from the truth.

Seeking a counselor is a sign of strength. When you decide to resolve your struggles, you commit to helping yourself. And counselors are there to guide you through your process of healing.

No matter the nature of your mental health challenges, they will be there with you the entire way. They’ve trained to help people face different obstacles, and they’ll aid you just like they’ve done with others. With their advice, you’ll be able to resolve your problems and take a step closer to a calmer mind.

The journey won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Just think of finally shedding all the baggage you carry after properly coming to terms with it. And imagine the peace of mind it will bring you. Seeing a counselor will be a step in the right direction towards a healthy mind.

To Wrap Up

The way to a healthy mind isn’t a one-step process. Like most other things, it involves identifying where you lack and what you need to improve on. There’s also no single track that would tell you exactly how to solve your problems. However, there are two things you can do to ensure you’re going the right way.

The first is to eat right. The brain is an organ, and you should treat it as such. Stray from processed foods and opt instead for healthier alternatives. Go with natural options that can help you both physically and mentally. It also wouldn’t hurt that those can regulate your mood and help maintain your energy levels.

For the second, see a counselor. Some struggles and challenges weigh us down so much it starts to affect our daily lives. When you find yourself constantly worrying, go to a counselor. Ask for help when things become heavy and overwhelming. Go to counseling when you’re confused and frustrated.

We should treat our mental welfare with the same respect and seriousness we treat our physical wellbeing. And we should be just as concerned about our minds as we are about our hearts. Our mental health should not be secondary to anything. After all, how can we live contently if our brain is not in the right place?

Take care of your mental health. Because really, what’s a fit body if your mind is unhealthy? They should go hand in hand, and we shouldn’t treat them as unrelated entities.

Frequently Asked Questions About St. John’s Wort And Depression

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I got diagnosed with depression after dealing with one miscarriage after another in a span of two years. The first time it happened, I consoled myself by thinking that perhaps that baby was not meant for us; that’s why it was taken away before it could see the world. The second time it happened, I was still somewhat fine, considering I worked like a lunatic back then and did not know I was pregnant until I experienced spotting.

After that, I took some time off work in hopes of having another baby. Two months later, the pregnancy test came back positive, and my husband and I were thrilled. However, when I went for my monthly checkup on what’s supposed to be my fifth month, the doctor said that she could no longer hear a heartbeat. I had to get a C-section on the same day to take my unborn child out of me.

The doctor tried to console me by saying that stillborn babies were common worldwide, but she was too late as I already started to beat myself up over it. But even when I slightly moved on from it, I continued to experience bouts of depression, causing me to look for a non-drug way to handle it.

That’s when I heard about St. John’s wort.

Does St. John’s wort help with depression? 

Yes, St. John’s wort helps fight depression. Many experts have compared it to Prozac, a well-known antidepressant, and found that their effects are no different from each other. Despite that, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes it as a dietary supplement, so you must ask your doctor if you can consume St. John’s wort before buying it.

How much St. John’s wort should I take for depression? 

The official standard dosage of St. John’s wort that adults should take for depression is 300 milligrams. Some specialists may recommend taking it thrice a day after the first few weeks of the diagnosis. Then, things may ease up once the herb takes effect, and the patients may only need to take it once every day.

How long does St. John’s wort take to work for depression? 

While St. John’s wort has been useful for many individuals as an antidepressant, it is difficult to determine a specific number of days that you need to take it before the herb works for depression. Some claimed only to require two weeks; others had to consume St. John’s wort for months. 

Despite the lack of concrete information on this matter, no one should take too much St. John’s wort every day, hoping that it will speed up its effectiveness. Doing so may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Which is better for depression, St. John’s wort or 5-HTP? 

St. John’s wort and 5-HTP are two dietary supplements that have often been connected to depression over the years. Between the two of them, though, the former is more suitable to combat depression than the latter. The reason is that St. John’s wort is very much like the antidepressants that psychiatrists prescribe to their patients, although it is naturally found in the environment. The 5-HTP is only known to increase a person’s serotonin level, not improve other symptoms of depression.

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What does St. John’s wort do to the brain? 

St. John’s wort is a well-known natural antidepressant; it works similarly to synthetic antidepressants. Meaning, it helps the brain produce more serotonin, the feel-good hormone that is insufficiently found in depressed people. However, taking more St. John’s wort than you need may cause you to shiver, feel anxious, or develop heart-related problems.

Does St. John’s wort make you gain weight? 

Many people want to believe that it cannot make you put on extra pounds, considering it is a natural herb. Others think that it can help with weight loss, even though experts strongly suggest that the herb is not intended for that. In truth, there is not enough research to support the idea that St. John’s wort makes you gain – or lose – weight up to this day.

Should I take St. John’s wort in the morning or night? 

It will be best if you take St. John’s wort in the morning – that is the safest time to do it. The reason is that it is challenging to assess how much of the herb is too much for your body, so you may have trouble falling asleep sometimes. In that case, you should perhaps use St. John’s wort to your advantage and allow it to help you stay awake during the day.   

Who should not take St. John’s wort? 

St. John’s wort is a reasonably harmless antidepressant, being a natural herb and all. However, it can interact harshly with blood thinners and cancer medications, so you should avoid taking St. John’s wort in any form if you need the drugs mentioned above. Furthermore, it is ill-advised to consume St. John’s wort if you are still taking another antidepressant because the effects of both may be too much for your body, and you may be unable to sleep.

What is the best natural antidepressant? 

St. John’s wort is the best natural antidepressant available in the market. It has been recognized as an effective antidepressant by many people for decades, although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still considers it a dietary supplement. And while anyone can drink it as tea or take it in pill form, you should not consume St. John’s wort if you take cancer drugs or blood thinners.

What foods to avoid when taking St. John’s wort? 

Although St. John’s wort is an all-natural antidepressant, there is a relatively wide variety of foods that you cannot eat while consuming the herb in any form. The list includes:

  • Banana
  • Beer
  • Chicken liver
  • Chocolate

The common denominator among these foods is tyramine, a natural substance that may cause a hypertensive crisis once it interacts with St. John’s wort.

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Does St John’s wort make you sleepy? 

Yes, there have been studies claiming that St. John’s wort can help depressed individuals get rid of insomnia. However, you may get the opposite result if you take too much of the herbal extract. Hence, it will help if you keep your consumption to a minimum at all times.

Does St. John’s wort give you energy?

Technically, no, St. John’s wort does not give you energy. Instead, as a natural antidepressant, it can uplift your spirits. Hence, it may feel like you are getting an energy boost.

Final Thoughts

The jury is still out for St. John’s wort as I’m waiting for my psychiatrist to tell me if I can take it. In the meantime, I focus on myself and my marriage, still hoping that I’d be able to carry my next pregnancy to full term.

6 Foods To Avoid That Are Bad For Your Mental Health

We all know that what we eat affects our overall physical health. But are you aware of its impacts on our mental and emotional health? Recent research has discovered that specific diets work best for certain mental health problems, while some worsen your condition. There is much to learn about how the food improves our problems, but it still shows a clear message. What we eat affects our mood, feelings, and even our cognition.

Now, the question is: what foods are not suitable for our mental health? To answer that query, we rounded up a list of foods to avoid explaining why they are bad for you.

Alcohol

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Do you know that the central nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord, controls how we process emotions? And this is just one of the body systems affected by your nights at the bar drinking alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol, as a depressant, affects the way this system works, altering your mood and behavior. Even though alcoholic beverages can liven up a party, this elation only lasts after the initial drinks. And as your intake increases your blood alcohol content, you become more tired, restless, anxious, and depressed.

Although you are better off avoiding alcohol at all costs, you can still have a glass or two occasionally. 

Wine

Wine is an alcoholic drink with fruit-based compounds. Drinking red wine, in particular, is found to help us relax and destress. It is suitable for the heart, and the sleep, which makes consuming it sounds like a good thing for our overall health. But excessive wine consumption is similar to regular beer drinking; it affects your mood and mental health.

Revastrol, the compound found in grapes’ skin, has negative impacts on the central nervous system. It slowly depresses the activities of this body system, increasing your risk of depression. It can also weaken your muscles and disrupt your sleep, resulting in many other severe health problems like insomnia.

So stick to occasional wine drinking. Meanwhile, if you have not tried the wine yet, it may be better not to try it at all. This advice is primarily for people with addiction problems because the risk far outweighs the benefits you get from drinking it.

Fast Food And Junk Foods

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When you are hungry, it is tempting to grab junk food or go to a drive-thru for a quick pick me up. But researchers discovered that regularly eating fast food results in higher mental distress levels since these foods have high amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, and omega-6 fatty acids. Although these fats are necessary to improve brain function, they do the opposite when consuming them over the limit.

Too many fast foods and junk foods trigger an inflammatory response, increasing your risk for anxiety and depression. So, when you need a snack, instead of fries, better grab a fruit to be physically and mentally satisfied!

Caffeine

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Caffeine has many sound effects on the body. It stimulates the nervous system, rids the body of extra salt, and increases blood pressure. It is generally safe to drink a cup every day if we stay within the recommended 400mg caffeine per day. Going beyond that makes our body go haywire as it wakes you up, making it difficult for you to have a restful sleep.

Due to the lack of proper and enough sleep, you can be more prone to depression and anxiety disorders. It also worsens your pre-existing conditions, like the manic or depressive episodes of your bipolar disorder. So whenever you drink caffeine, always stay within the limit to reap the best benefits for your body.  

Sugar

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We sometimes associate happiness with all things sweet. But like the other foods in this list, excessive amounts of sugar in your diet is harmful to your physical and mental health.

Heavy sugar consumption is associated with an increased risk of depression and worse outcomes for people with schizophrenia. Sugar decreases the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), responsible for our neurons’ maintenance and survival. 

On the other hand, sugar does not cause anxiety but worsens its symptoms, increasing worry and fear in people with this condition. Sugar high ends up in a sugar crash that causes shaking, tension, and fatigue, which the body interprets as signs of a panic attack.

Although taking away sugar from your diet will not cure your mental health problems, it greatly minimizes its symptoms and helps you deal with stress better.

High-Sodium Foods

Sodium chloride, or table salt, is often considered a mood-elevating substance. According to researches, low-sodium intake can make us feel depressed. However, like many foods, too much salt can also worsen our mental health.

High-sodium foods disrupt our neurological system and make us feel fatigued, which are symptoms of depression. So although it does not directly result in this condition, it puts us at risk because of how it affects our physical health. It puts us in danger for severe medical conditions and obesity, thus stressing us out even further.

So take a grain of salt with caution and remember to avoid going over the recommended amount. You can still enjoy your food and your life with the right amount of sodium in your diet!

Final Thoughts

Some of the foods on our list may benefit our mental health in proper amounts. But, if you are aware that you are at risk for overconsuming them, especially alcohol and sugar, try to avoid them at all costs. Change the way you eat and improve your overall mental and physical health!

 

How Can Kids In The Family Start Liking Vegetables?

I grew up in a low-income family. Before they had me in the United States, my parents were illegal immigrants, and they had odd jobs to make ends meet. Most of the time, my father would bring home vegetable dishes from the restaurant he worked at, which were practically leftovers. It meant that our meals would be free, but it was all just vegetables.

At first, I was not bothered by it. I thought that’s how all families survived. However, when I entered elementary school and saw some kids bring burgers and other meat dishes for lunch, I associated vegetables with poverty. I told myself back then, “When I become a parent, I will work hard so that my children can eat meat all day every day.”

And that’s what happened, you know. I studied hard, got a full scholarship at Yale, became a lawyer, and started a family. When my firstborn started eating, I gave her chicken or beef with rice or fruits. She grew to love the taste, and the same thing happened with my second child.

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But I later found a loophole in my plan only to let the kids eat non-veggie meals: they have developed nutrient deficiency. When I asked the pediatrician why, she said that it’s because their bodies are not getting enough vitamins and minerals. It may not have been an issue if they have had balanced meals that consist of go, grow, and glow foods. FYI, that’s a fancy way of saying that my children must eat vegetables with meat.

Of course, I understand its significance now. What I didn’t know was how I could change my kids’ perception of veggies. Here are some things that the pediatrician recommended to me.

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Take Them To Farmers’ Markets

farmers’ market is filled with organic products that the local producers have harvested from their farms. That’s where you will find plenty of freshly cut meat, honey, and fruits, but most of the goods are a wide variety of vegetables.

When I brought my children to the farmer’s market, they naturally went to the meat vendors, especially since they were cooking steaks for the free samples. It took some time, but I managed to pull them away after a few sticks towards the vegetable stalls. They were unimpressed at first and kept wanting to go back to those delicious samples, but they got hooked when a kind vendor talked to them about growing veggies. Although they did not eat the lentil soup I made that day, I would like to believe that that was a promising start.

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Present The Vegetables Creatively

I chatted up some friends whose kids were not fond of eating greens like mine. One of them suggested concealing the vegetables by pureeing or cutting them as little as possible. I thought that’s cool, but then I realized that I did not want to lie to my children. They should know what goes in their mouth and why it is valuable for their health. Thus, I looked up creative presentations of vegetables online.

For instance, since the littles had been binge-watching Gnomeo & Juliet, I made mushroom stalks out of boiled eggs for breakfast one day. The head part was made out of sliced cherry tomatoes, topped with tiny bits of cheese. For the grass, I surrounded the mushrooms with fresh watercress. They loved the presentation so much that they ate all the tomatoes and took several bites of the leafy greens.

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Put Them On Vegetable Preparation Duty

Considering my kids were always wandering around the kitchen when we were cooking, I decided to put them on vegetable preparation duty. I chose fajitas that day, so they worked on bell peppers of different colors, which they all loved. The children washed and julienned them using child-proof knives that I got earlier, and they tried to make the cuts as even as possible. In short, they felt very invested in those bell peppers.

During dinnertime, I placed the plate of fajitas in front of my kids and told them to dig in. I did not urge them to eat everything, including the veggies; I merely waited for them to make a move. To my surprise, my eldest child took a spoonful of meat and bell peppers and exclaimed, “Hmm, that’s so good!” After hearing that, my youngest child copied his brother and had the same reaction.

I tried a similar technique the next day—this time with cauliflower and beans—and they were all over it, too. That’s when I knew that my children finally started liking vegetables.

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Source: pxfuel.com

Final Thoughts

Our family experiment lasted for two months. It took some time to coax the little ones to eat their greens without forcing them, but I must say that it was worth the effort. Even when I only cooked fried chicken for them, they would ask for carrots or peppers or corn or any veggie side dish.

What more can I ask for?

 

 

Herbs That Help Enhance Respiratory Health

 

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The coronavirus is part of the SARS family of viruses, which affects the respiratory systems in our body. It is a known fact that polluted air and other seasonal afflictions are crucial to enhancing one’s respiratory health to prevent further spread of this unprecedented virus across the world.

According to the World Health Organization, there are about 90% of individuals around the world who are living in places with poor drainage and in places where air pollution surpasses the guideline restrictions. With much to do these days, there is so much to learn to help improve or maintain your respiratory health.

Below is a list of herbs and supplements that can help strengthen your respiratory health system.

Mullein. This plant can be found in Northern Africa, Europe, and Asia. The Mullein leaf is the main part that is the most beneficial, with its benefits going back to the earliest Greeks. Now, the mullein leaf is most popularly used for one’s capacity to enhance lung and respiratory health. The old herbalists think that this plant primarily relieves all parts of the respiratory tract.

Astragalus. Chinese herbalists have been using Astragalus for many, many years. With more than 100 active compounds, along with polysaccharides, flavonoids, saponins, and amino acids, the Astragalus is taken to provide relief in the parts of the respiratory system and to relax the airways. Other than that, it is also a great source of antioxidants and provides cardio function.

 

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Wild Cherry Bark. Derived from the black cherry tree bark, this is filled with iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium, and many more minerals. Studies have revealed that this supplement may aid in calming and supporting the respiratory system because of its capacity to relieve the respiratory muscles that line the bronchioles. It is available as wild bark capsules or in syrup form.

Elecampane Root. While it is not very popular, the elecampane root is related to the sunflower and is a very potent respiratory system helper. Its scientific name, Helenium, was created after Helen of Troy, as according to the folktale, the elecampane roots were found where Helen’s tears fell. It has been used centuries ago to improve lung function and other respiratory concerns.

Oregano. A very famous kitchen herb, oregano is more than just a flavor booster. It is a powerful antioxidant that promotes immune and digestive functions. The oregano supplement has been known to also relieve sore throat, cough, and colds.

Bromelain And Quercetin. Quercetin is a potent antioxidant flavonoid that can be derived from eating apples, ginkgo Biloba, onions, and red grapes, among others. It is often mixed with Bromelain in supplement form, as the latter may improve the absorption of quercetin.

Bromelain, on the other hand, comes from the stem of the pineapple and provides a notable variety of proteolytic enzymes. It has been used in scientific trials to test its benefits for lung health and sinusitis. These two, when combined, are a powerful respiratory booster.

 

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Coleus Forskohlii. This herb may sound overly exotic but it is simply part of the mint family, which has been utilized as a respiratory reliever for centuries. This South Asian herb has also been proven to cure seasonal allergies. The supplement formulated from the coleus forskohlii has a very relaxing effect on the smooth muscles of the nostrils.

Plantain Leaf. The plantain is a long-lasting plant that was discovered in Central Asia and Europe. It is loaded with flavonoids such as luteolin and apigenin, plus zinc, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, K, and C. The leaf supplements were traditionally used by many to treat their seasonal and respiratory ailments.

Red Raspberry Leaves. You probably know by now how powerful these raspberry leaves are and how delicious the berries are, which is also beneficial to one’s health. It is loaded with various nutrients like calcium, alpha-carotene, magnesium, selenium, and other antioxidants. Since centuries ago, herbalists have used leaves from this fruit-bearing tree to use as a tonic when one was suffering from respiratory illnesses.

 

 

 

Why You Should Switch To Organic Foods

The 2019 interactive conference celebrates innovation, creativity, and technology. These three things are essential in making developments for society to improve our everyday lives.

Due to the continuous development of technology, we now live in a fast-paced world where consuming instant and prepared foods are inevitable. While advancements are essential in enhancing the quality of life, but when it comes to food, the simpler it is, the better. Here are some reasons why you should switch to organic foods.

More Nutrient Content And Free From Chemicals

Foods produced naturally tend to contain more nutrients as opposed to those that grow conventionally. Organic foods contain 20% to 40% more antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect the cells from damage and from aging fast. Also, organic milk and meat contain 50% more omega-3 fatty acids.

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If you are suffering allergies from chemicals or worried about ingesting them, organic foods are perfect. Fresh produce grown in vast quantities tend to use more of these chemicals to sustain continuous production. While organic foods usually come from small local farms.

Good For The Environment

Production of organic food helps reduce soil erosion, conserve water, and improve soil quality. A study, comparing wheat fields where natural and chemically treated wheat plans grew, found that there were 8 more inches of topsoil in the organic area than the other. Also, organic farming uses mulch, which helps conserve water. Since organic agriculture veer away from pesticides and chemicals, they do not contribute to the harmful water runoff that non-organic farms produce. 

The refusal to use chemicals also contribute to better soil quality. Organic farming also practices cultivation, which is helpful for the soil.

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Better For The Health

Since organic foods are free from pesticides and contain more nutrition, it benefits health better. The immune system is safe from the growth hormones used to grow the size of fruits, vegetables, and livestock. You don’t need to worry about diseases that come from pesticides and chemicals.

The benefits of organic food are numerous. Not only will it benefit your health, but the environment as well. So, make the switch now.

Boost Your Immune System Through These Expert-Proven Natural Foods

 

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As the coronavirus outbreak continues to increase, precautions like proper handwashing, exercising, getting sufficient sleep, and social distancing are key to reducing the risk of contamination. However, there are also many benefits to boosting your immune system by eating healthy and natural foods. Although no research has proven that certain foods can cure or prevent getting infected, strengthening your body is a surefire way to defend yourself against it, and against any other infection for that matter.

Below is a list of expert-proven foods to load up in your pantry for the next months to boost your immune system.

Red Bell Peppers

High in vitamin C, a cup of red bell peppers has more than 200% of vitamin C – that’s twice as much as what the orange has! Studies have shown that vitamin C increases immune defense by improving specific cell functions of the body. It also helps reduce the risk of contracting respiratory infections and contributes to the growth of tissues in the body. Taking vitamin C supplements is vital because the body does not produce it internally. One can either slice one big red bell pepper and eat it raw, mix it with salad, or bake it with some tuna and cheese.

Chickpeas

 

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These beige marbles are loaded with protein, amino acids that are crucial in the growth and repair of various tissues of the body. Chickpeas also contain a large amount of zinc, which increases immune system strength and regulation. These make a healthy snack or added in some greens. They’re more delicious when roasted and added with a sprinkle of grape seed or canola oil. If you’re using canned chickpeas, however, you’ll need to rinse them first to lessen the sodium content.

Broccoli

A half-cup of broccoli contains more than 40% of one’s daily requirement of vitamin C. It also contains antioxidants and phytochemicals, substances that support the immune system, and prevents cancer and other chronic illnesses. To benefit the most from this superfood, eat it directly after it has been thoroughly washed or just slightly sauté it with a little olive oil and some garlic and mushrooms.

Strawberries

Mixing these delicious fruits to your daily dose of yogurt or peanut butter toast is one of the best ways to get your 50% vitamin C for the day. It has also been proven that strawberries help in cell damage protection and, of course, immune system strengthening. Don’t forget to drop some of these in one of your protein smoothies.

Spinach

Remember Pop-Eye the Sailorman and how his muscles just grew every time he popped some spinach in his mouth? This cartoon character became famous decades ago, which only proves that spinach has been known to be a powerful vegetable that provides physical and mental strength. Aside from vitamin C, it also contains beta-carotene, a source of vitamin C, and antioxidants. Consume it raw, sauté it, or fold it in your scrambled eggs.

Garlic

This one’s so easy to consume because it’s a staple for almost all kinds of recipes. It’s loaded with benefits, including reduced blood pressure and the risk of heart conditions. It’s also a known anti-inflammatory, which is why it helps tremendously in decreasing bacterial and viral infections. In the past, garlic has shown to get rid of the common cold. Mix it in your marinated meats, pasta sauces, or even soups and get the most of its health components.

Source: pxfuel.com

Mushrooms

The sun is the best source of vitamin D, but if you don’t have the opportunity to be exposed to the early morning sun, you can get it from these superfoods. Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D complex. It also aids the absorption of calcium in the body, which makes it beneficial for bone health. It also helps prevent respiratory conditions and some types of cancer. If you’re thinking of a healthy side dish, roast some button or shitake mushrooms with garlic, butter, and some dash of salt and pepper.