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Why You Should Choose Healthy Drinks Over Soda

Sodas are sparkling and sweet and delicious; but that does not mean they are good. In fact, the opposite is true. Doctors have found that there are a significant number of health risks associated with drinking soda pop. In addition to these health risks, each time you choose a soda over a healthy drink you are denying your body a range of vitamins and minerals it desperately needs.

Choosing a soda means you are not drinking a healthy beverage; and this means your body is suffering from the lack of those essential minerals and vitamins. There are many healthy options you could choose to drink instead of soda.

Why Should You Say No To Soda?

Although it may taste good it provides absolutely no value to your body at all. It contains no nutritional value; and in fact does more harm than good to your body. Soda is filled with calories and sugar and nothing your body can use. Even diet sodas do not have any nutritional value and in fact can be detrimental to your body. In stark contrast, healthy beverages contain minerals and vitamins that your body can use. Even just plan water can rehydrate your body without the extra calories that come with other drinks.

Sodas that contain sugar are powerful contributors to diabetes and obesity. The high fructose corn syrup (sweetener) content of soda has been linked to obesity. In addition to weight gain the consumption of soda has been linked to type 2 diabetes, not only because of its sugar content but also because of the effects it has on the body’s hormones. What About Diet Soda? Diet soda is no better. According to the results of at least one study, the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas are linked to an increase in appetite, more difficulty in losing weight and more difficulty maintaining weight loss.

Soda causes damage to your teeth. The combination of the sugar in soda coating your teeth and the bacteria in your mouth forms an acid that causes damage to your teeth. In addition to the sugar, soda contains carbolic acid because of the carbonation, and this weakens the enamel on your teeth causing tooth decay and cavities. This means that even though diet soda may not contain sugar, it is still a danger to your teeth because of its carbonation.

Soda can also weaken your bones. The caffeine and phosphorous contained in the majority of sodas are believed to be linked to osteoporosis. In addition to this, there is a concern that those who drink soda do so in place of healthy drinks such as milk; which in turn means their bones are being deprived of calcium.

Soda can cause harm to your major organs. According to research, an increase in soft drink consumption could be linked to the chronic liver disease, fatty liver, as well as the development of metabolic syndrome which is a combination of symptoms that cause an increase in heart disease, along with chronic kidney disease.

Healthy Drink Alternatives

The good news is that there are endless options for replacing soda with healthy drinks. A few healthy alternatives to soda:

Water. This is the ultimate healthy drink. It has no calories and is essential in keeping the body hydrated. It is also the transport system for getting nutrients to the cells of your body and removing cellular waste. Drinking plenty of water will increase the appearance of your skin and will improve the health of your organs in addition to many other benefits.

Fruit Juice. Straight fruit juice contains a lot of sugar so it is best to drink it as an addition to seltzer to add flavoring. Instead of drinking juice it is better to eat a whole fruit since that will give you the fiber from the fruit as well as the nutrients from the juice.

Milk. Milk is an essential drink that contains nine essential nutrients but very few calories. An 8 ounce glass of nonfat milk contains only 80 calories.

Tea. All teas have been found to contain high levels of antioxidants which help to protect the body from damage. This applies to black tea as well as herbal and green tea.

Powdered Drink Mixes. These drinks do not contain the carbonation that damages teeth that come in the sugar-free soda varieties. Powdered drink mixes can give you a fix of sweetness without causing harm to your overall nutrition.

Cutting up fresh fruit and adding it to a tall glass of water is an excellent way to benefit from flavor as well as nutrition. Try replacing soda with healthy drinks and experience the difference it makes to your body and the way you feel.

Mary D. Jordan / February 28, 2015 / Choose food wisely

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The Danger Of “Healthy” Cereals For Kids

In order to avoid the high levels of sugar that are contained in kids’ cereals, many parents are choosing what they believe is the healthier option of fortified breakfast cereals. However, these cereals could be causing more harm than good due to the dangerous amounts of certain nutrients that are contained in them.

According to a new report by the Environmental Working Group, young children are at risk of consuming quantities of niacin, zinc and vitamin A that are too high for their bodies to cope with. The numbers of children affected are extremely high. The combination of vitamin supplements and food intake mean that over 13 million children in America are ingesting too much zinc, almost 5 million are taking in too much niacin, and over 10 million are ingesting too much vitamin A.

The main reason for the excess is that all three of these nutrients are added to fortified foods in amounts that have been calculated for adults, not for children. Because age-appropriate labeling on products that are specifically targeted to children is not a requirement, and because the daily values for the majority of minerals and vitamins on food labels have not been updated by the FDA since 1968, the nutritional information on food labels adds to the confusion for parents. Many parents do not read the labels and are instead swayed by the prominent marketing claims on the packaging of cereals that could be potentially misleading, promoting high fortification levels in order to give the impression that their products are more nutritious.

The EWG identifies in one component of the report, 23 cereals that have the highest added doses of niacin, zinc and vitamin A. For children of 8 years old and younger a single serving of one of these cereals would exceed the safe limit recommended by the Institute of Medicine. A few of the well-known, popular cereals included on this list were: Kellogg’s All Bran Complete; Kashi U With Black Currants And Walnuts, and General Mills Total Raisin Bran.

What Is The Danger In Overdoing These Nutrients?

Routinely ingesting too much vitamin A can, in time, lead to a variety of health problems including peeling skin, skeletal abnormalities, hair loss, brittle nails and liver damage. Zinc levels that are too high can impair the body’s ability to absorb copper. Copper is already low in the diets of many Americans and low levels of copper can lead to fatigue and anemia. High levels of zinc can also have a negative effect on the immune function and on red and white blood cells. Although niacin is not as toxic as zinc and vitamin A, too much of it can cause short term symptoms like vomiting, nausea and rash.

Clinical dietitian and director of sports nutrition at Texas Children’s Hospital, Roberta Anding says that the EWG’s report highlights the fact that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. She also reports that she sees an equal number of patients with nutrition poisoning to the number she sees that have nutrition deficiencies. She points out that many people are unaware that minerals and vitamins can act like drugs inside the body; and that in the same way you would not take three times the recommended dosage of an antibiotic in order to benefit from three times the protection – in fact that level of dosage would cause harm to your body – taking more than the recommended amount of nutrients can have a similar effect.

How To Get Your Kids To Eat Healthy

The first step is to make sure that your children are eating a well-rounded diet of a variety of whole foods. Anding says that the idea is to put together a combination of beautiful food on a plate that consists of vegetables, fruits, lean protein and whole grains.

Be wary of foods in packaging that have flashy marketing claims, and pay more attention to the food labels. Anding recommends avoiding foods that contain more than 25% of the recommended daily value of any nutrients. She also points out that it is not only cereals that are to blame. Many products are fortified, including snack bars, yogurts, juices and waters; and any of these could send your child’s (or your own) nutrient levels beyond the healthy point.

Regarding daily multivitamins for children, according to Anding these should only be used when an aversion, allergy or fussy eating results in a major food group missing from your child’s diet.

Mary D. Jordan / February 6, 2015 / Choose food wisely

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The Benefits Of Fiber In Your Diet

If you have found it difficult to stick to a calorie restricted diet because you are always hungry, fiber may be the answer. Nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Works in Louisville, Ky explains that fiber keeps you fuller for longer. After eating fiber you do not get as hungry as quickly; this means it makes it much easier for those who are trying to cut down their calorie intake.

Although fiber is a carbohydrate, unlike other carbohydrates your body doesn’t break it down, says Meyerowitz.

As Meyerowitz continues to explain, simple carbohydrates do not offer the same filling benefits. Fiber causes you to feel more satisfied and it does not make the blood sugar increase as quickly as simple carbohydrates. This controls addition of sugar to your system, making it more steady.

Apart from its benefits as a diet aid, there are many additional health benefits you can get from fiber which include:

Reducing the risk of diabetes; improving digestion; reducing constipation; improving digestion; regulation of blood sugar; and a lower risk of diverticulitis or inflammation of the intestines.

Good Dietary Sources Of Fiber

The healthiest foods and edible plants contain a high level of fiber. These included fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Fiber can be soluble or insoluble. These two types of fiber act differently in your body while they are being processed, according to Meyerowitz. Simply put, soluble fiber can dissolve in water to a certain extent while insoluble fiber cannot.

It is better to get the fiber your body needs each day from foods you eat rather than from supplements. The majority of people need between 20 and 35 grams of fiber daily. Excellent sources of fiber include:

Whole-grain cereals, pastas and breads

Vegetables and fruits

Brown rice

Popcorn

Dried beans

Oatmeal

Although it is important to make sure your body is getting enough fiber in your diet, it is also important to not increase your intake all at once. Increasing your fiber intake gradually will help to avoid side effects like abdominal pain, gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Smart Choices Of Fiber In Your Diet

Once you know which foods are rich in fiber it is time to find ways to include them in your daily snacks and meals. Here are a few tips that will help you to get more fiber each day:

Eat whole-grain cereal or oatmeal for breakfast along with fresh fruit.

Eat your vegetables and fruits raw and leave the skins on in order to get more fiber from them.

Choose dried or fresh fruits for your snacks.

Choose couscous, barley or bulgur as a side dish.

Switch from white rice to brown.

Eat popcorn as a healthy fiber-rich snack.

Add vegetables to all of your meals.

Eat whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta.

Make sure that you eat a minimum of two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit each day. Choose fruit and vegetables that are particularly high in fiber such as apples, spinach, peas, sweet potatoes, berries and pears.

Bran muffins make a great fiber-rich snack or breakfast food.

Fiber is one of the healthiest things you can eat in addition to being filling and delicious. There are many easy ways to make fiber a big part of each day in a tasty way; and you will notice the benefits quickly. It’s a simple, easy way to feel satisfied while getting your body into a healthy state.

Mary D. Jordan / February 6, 2015 / Choose food wisely