Tag Archives: wellness

5 Foods That May Help You Get Clear Skin and Rid Acne

While the relationship between diet and acne has long been regarded as a myth, emerging scientific evidence is now alluding to how certain foods may help reduce acne. Even the American Academy of Dermatology is taking notice. If you’re fed up with acne despite your efforts, examining your diet for shortfalls is worth considering.

 

Low-glycemic load foods

Perhaps one of the best-studied areas of acne as it pertains to diet is the glycemic index. According to the “Guidelines of Care for the Management of Acne Vulgaris” published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, high glycemic index diets may be associated with acne. The glycemic load takes into account how quantities of foods each impact blood sugar. In a number of clinical studies with control groups, low-glycemic load and high-protein diets affected the hormone markers that influence inflammation and acne, resulting in significantly fewer acne lesions within 10 weeks.

 

One of the best things you can do to manage the glycemic load from your diet, is by eating protein, fat, and unrefined carbs with fiber at every meal and snack. That’s because carbs like white rice, fluffy white bread, boxed cereals made with refined grains, instant oats, pastries, and candy exert the biggest impact on your blood sugars if eaten alone or with little other protein and fat.

 

Whole-food carbs are beneficial and good for you, including legumes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and whole fruit. These foods also contribute antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation.

 

Fermented foods

The microbiome has been a huge topic in the nutrition and microbiology world for the past few years, with the theory that probiotics (the “good” bacteria) benefit digestion and immunity. Now researchers are looking at how these healthy bugs may help your skin. In one notable clinical study, women who took probiotic supplements for 12 weeks while on oral acne antibiotics ended up with significantly fewer acne lesions compared to the groups who only took antibiotics or probiotics.

 

In most recent news, a study comparing the types of skin bacteria on people with clear skin versus those with acne suggested that rather than wiping out all skin bacteria with antibiotics, a better approach may be balancing the bacteria. The P. acnes bacteria on people with clear skin were higher in number compared to those with acne. Clear skin contained compounds that supported healthy conditions, while people with acne had skin bacteria that promoted inflammation. The researcher hypothesized that one way to balance the bacteria may be through probiotics.

 

Foods that contain probiotics include those with live, active strains of good bacteria, like yogurt, kimchi (fermented cabbage), sauerkraut, kombucha (fermented tea), and kefir. These days, manufacturers add probiotics to a variety of health foods. But don’t cook the final product, since high heat can kill the beneficial bacteria.

 

Oily fish  

While omega-3s fatty acids are essential for good overall health, there is preliminary evidence suggesting it may help rid acne. EPA, a certain type of omega-3, has been found in some studies to have an anti-inflammatory effect on acne. AAD points to one promising study where acne improved in 8 of the 13 individuals who supplemented with 930 milligrams of EPA daily for 12 weeks. While the results were not considered statistically significant, researchers did deem the fish oil theory as worthy of more studies.

 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 500 milligrams EPA and DHA (an omega-3) per day, while the USDA recommends two servings of seafood per week as part of a balanced diet. Eating two to three 3-ounce servings of oily fish per week can bring you to that amount. Some of the richest sources of EPA include salmon, rainbow trout, halibut, anchovies, and sardines. Typically the oilier fish, the better.

 

If you don’t eat seafood, 10 percent of plant-based ALA (another omega-3) converts to DHA and EPA in the body.

 

Oysters, beef, and crab

According to the National Institutes of Health, research suggests that people with acne have lower levels of zinc in the blood and skin and that taking zinc orally appears to help treat acne.

 

In one study, 48 patients with mild to moderate acne who took a zinc-complex with antioxidants three times a day for three months experienced a significant improvement in acne count at eight weeks.

 

While a zinc deficiency is uncommon in the United States, healthy populations can still fall prey to falling short in zinc, like pregnant and lactating women entering gestation with marginal zinc status. Vegetarians may require as much as 50 percent more of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for zinc, since vegetarians’ higher legume and whole grain intake contains phytates that bind zinc and block absorption. Oysters contain a crazy amount of zinc—493% of the Daily Value! Other excellent sources of zinc include beef, crab, lobster, pork, baked beans, dark meat chicken, yogurt, and cashews.

 

Green tea

Studies suggest that green tea may improve acne due to its EGCG content, a polyphenol antioxidant known as having anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects.

 

In one study, randomly assigned women with moderate to severe acne who were supplemented with decaffeinated green tea extract (containing 856 milligrams EGCG) for 4 weeks experienced significantly fewer acne lesions on the nose, chin, and around the mouth compared to the placebo group.

 

Getting a large amount of EGCG isn’t as easy as cracking open a bottle of iced tea. Freshly brewed tea is the way to go, since the bottled stuff only contains a fraction of the amount of beneficial compounds.

 

One cup of green tea provides 25 to 106 milligrams of EGCG, by comparison, making decaffeinated tea a more suitable go-to for someone drinking larger quantities of green tea to minimize caffeine’s side effects.

 

If you’re looking for more bang for your sipping pleasure, try matcha green tea, comprised of high-quality green tea leaves that are gently steamed and ground into a powder that is consumed in the tea. One study found that matcha contains 137 times more EGCG than China Green Tips green tea, and is at least three times higher than the largest amount of EGCG found in studies for other green teas. Another study found that matcha green tea extracted three times more EGCG from the tea compared to leaf tea.

 

Michelle Dudash is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef consultant and the author of Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes with Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

5 Foods to Help Your Respiratory Health

Did you know that what you eat can benefit how your lungs function, and how well you can breathe? Give these five foods a try for improved respiratory health.

 

Pears

Eating more fresh fruit like pears may decrease production of phlegm, found a Scottish study in the European Respiratory Journal. In the study, adults regularly eating fresh fruit had a 30 to 40 percent reduced prevalence of phlegm for three or more months per year and in the morning in winter. “Pears are portable and can easily be found nationwide,” says Shaw. “Not only are they bursting with fiber, which helps keep you fuller for longer, they’ve also got vitamin C, an important antioxidant that can boost your immunity.” Pair pears with almond butter, or add thin slices to a grilled cheese sandwich.

 

Matcha

This green tea boasts caffeine, which may improve lung function in people with asthma for up to four hours, per a Cochrane review study. “Matcha green tea also offers a healthy boost of polyphenols and L-theanine, which may help keep you focused and calm while also alert,” says Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author of The MIND Diet.  

 

Sweet Potatoes

Here’s a veggie that tops the charts for vitamin A and is also an excellent source of vitamin C. “These two antioxidants protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in people with asthma,” says Moon. She suggests topping a baked sweet potato with toasted almonds, which are vitamin E superstars.

 

Black Cumin

This spice may fight inflammation and help lower resistance in the respiratory airway — potentially helping get more air to the lungs. People with partially controlled asthma who supplemented with black cumin saw improvements in both inflammation and pulmonary function, per a small study in Annals of Saudi Medicine.

 

Fish

Eating fish like salmon and sardines may help your respiratory health: Kids who ate less fish were more likely to report poor respiratory health, especially more coughing and wheezing, in a European study. It’s possible that the omega-3s in fish may provide protective respiratory benefits. Grill salmon with veggies, or add sardines to a Greek salad.

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Should You Take a Collagen Supplement? 

Some are claiming that they’ve found the fountain of youth, and it’s in a bottle at your local vitamin shop. Collagen is the newest supplement fad to hit the market, and many are adopting this new craze in the hopes of having tighter skin and less aching in their joints. But does it really do what it promises?

 

What is collagen?

Quite simply, collagen is the structural protein found in animal connective tissue. As the most abundant protein in the human body, it’s found in skin, muscles, bones and tendons. Collagen is also found in animal meat, so eating is it not new…but bottling and selling it as a supplement is. Many claim that taking collagen supplements will reduce wrinkles, make skin look younger and increase the elasticity in the joints. Yet, collagen is quickly broken down during digestion, so how can any of this be true?

 

Researchers realized this digestion problem early on and created a unique solution called hydrolyzed collagen. In simple terms, in hydrolyzed collagen, the molecular bonds between the individual collagen strands have been broken down into 19 amino acids. Research has found that this form of collagen is about 85% absorbable by the bloodstream. In other words, you may absorb more collagen when taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements than eating a piece of meat.

 

What does the research say?

Since collagen supplements are new to the market, the research is still preliminary. But a handful of studies show promising results on the effects of collagen supplementation on skin and joints.

 

In a recent randomized controlled trial, women aged 35-55 either received 2.5 grams or 5.0 grams of hydrolyzed collagen or placebo once a day for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, the skin elasticity in the groups taking the collagen supplement significantly improved, while the placebo group did not. Another similar study observed 114 women aged 45-65 years as they received a collagen supplement or placebo once a day for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, the group that took the collagen supplement saw a statistically significant reduction of eye wrinkle volume. There are a few other studies that showed similar results, suggesting that collagen supplementation may help skin look younger or prevent against the signs of aging.

Because collagen is a major component of muscles, bones and tendons, it has been also studied for its role in preventing the breakdown of joints. One study looked into the effectiveness of collagen supplementation on treating the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. After thirteen weeks taking a collagen supplement, the researchers found that supplementing with collagen decreased the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Another study observed the effects of collagen supplementation on the joints of athletes — a population that puts high stress on their joints. Subjects were either given 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen or placebo for 24-weeks. The researchers found that the athletes given the collagen supplement had less joint pain than those that did not receive the supplement.

 

The bottom line

Research suggests that supplementing with collagen is a safe and effective way to improve the health of skin and joints. But, as with any supplement, it’s best to be cautious. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements, making it impossible to know if the supplement matches what’s on the label. Choose brands that use third party testing, like NeoCell, rather than generic brands. And don’t be fooled by extreme claims on the label. While the research on collagen is promising, it won’t undo the effects of smoking, excessive sun exposure or a bad diet. As with any supplement, it should be accompanied by a healthy diet and lifestyle.

 

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

The Best Podcasts: In Health, Happiness, Lifestyle & Business

It’s probably a 0 % surprise to most of you that I’m a efficiency freak. (And that maybe I should …continue reading >

The post The Best Podcasts: In Health, Happiness, Lifestyle & Business appeared first on Simply Real Health.

Eat for Your Body, Not Your Bikini: How to Love Your Summer Body

Summer is around the corner, and while many look forward to the joys this season brings — vacations, more time spent outside, time off from school and work — just as many dread it thanks to media marketing around getting “the perfect bikini body” and photo-shopped models painting an unrealistic ideal. Along with the “beach body” marketing comes an onslaught of ridiculous fad diets and expensive schemes that ultimately lead to long-term weight gain…not to mention lower self-esteem, anxiety and preoccupation with food. This summer, try eating for your body, instead of that bikini and implement these practices to cultivate body respect and kindness.

 

Intuitive Eating

Ever wonder how a toddler knows exactly what and how much he/she wants to eat? We’re all born with an innate ability to know what food our body needs and when we’re satisfied. But unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a family member, friend, health professional, or the media told us what we should and shouldn’t eat and we lost touch with that inner voice. The good news is that inner wisdom still lives within each of us, and intuitive eating is a practice that helps us strengthen that voice by tuning into our body to honor our hunger and feel when we’re full. The work involves making peace with food by ditching the diet culture mentality, telling the food police to shove it, and finding pleasure and satisfaction from eating. This summer, rather than asking yourself “what should I eat right now?”, which comes from a place of fear, guilt and shame, empower your internal wisdom and flex that self-trust muscle by asking, “what do I want to eat right now?”

 

Social Media “Diet”

The only “diet” that may be of some value to follow this summer is one where you control the media you take in. Marci Evans, registered dietitian and eating disorder expert in Cambridge, MA, helps her clients block unhelpful people on Facebook, un-follow provoking Instagram accounts, toss out triggering magazines and carefully curate the blogs they read. “Then we have fun filling their feeds with information that inspires them to be their healthiest and most authentic self in mind, body, and spirit. It’s a picture of health that is taken from the inside, rather than the outside,” Evans says. Not sure where to start? Evans recommends to “try searching for people who promote body positivity, body acceptance, intuitive eating, and non-dieting.” Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness, says we need to filter our social media feeds so we can see pictures of people in larger bodies having fun. “The reality is 67% of American women are a size 14 or higher. Why can’t we see more representation of what people really look like? Exposure to size diversity helps us all.”

 

Ban Body Bashing

Negative body talk is all around us; in fact, many women bond over complaining about their bodies. But if we don’t like our bodies, guess what, we’re not going to treat them very well. It’s time to change the dialogue because our thoughts affect our behaviors and if we want to start treating our bodies better, we need to start with shifting the dialogue from negative to positive. Scritchfield suggests trying to focus on all the wonderful things our bodies do for us. “Write a ‘love letter’ to yourself. Put positive post-its where you get dressed and feel naked and vulnerable and see if the self-love note helps you feel a little less body shame.” She also says it’s pretty powerful to “write down your ‘critic’ thoughts and ask ‘would I say this to a little girl’?”. Evans recommends getting your girlfriends in on the change. “Let your friends know that you want your friendships to foster support and encouragement, not body bashing.”

 

Feel Good in Your Here and Now Body

The reality is that many aspects of our bodies are out of our control, and the more we try to manipulate them to fit a certain size or reach a number on the scale, the more if backfires and we feel worse. The best thing we can do is to treat our bodies with respect because health is more about behaviors than it is about a size. Rather than waiting to treat yourself until you reach that “number,” start working today to feel good in your here-and-now body. Evans recommends trying things like a fun pair of sunglasses, a new nail polish, a fresh haircut and hydrating your skin with lotion. “You deserve to treat your body with warmth and kindness today! Turns out we treat things we like better than we treat things we hate. So start treating your body as if you like it, and your health just might thank you for it!”

 

Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., R.Y.T., is a nutrition coach, yoga teacher and self-proclaimed foodie. She is a recipe developer, food photographer, writer and spokeswoman. Her food and healthy living blog, The Foodie Dietitian, features seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more mindfulness and yoga into your life.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.