With the negative controversy surrounding the vegetarian diet, you would think giving up meat is a big no-no for a healthy life. Well, according to Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, you shouldn’t worry about going vegetarian because “nothing dramatic is going to happen biochemically.”
Of course, just because “nothing dramatic is going to happen” doesn’t mean nothing good is going to happen either. In fact, there are many health benefits associated with the vegetarian lifestyle.
You May Lose Pounds, Get a Smaller Waist
In a laboratory study of vegetarian diets in terms of weight loss, Neal Barnard, MD, adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and the founder/president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (promotes a plant-based diet for disease prevention), said giving up meat and going vegetarian tends to lead to weight loss, even if shedding pounds isn’t your original goal.
While 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg) was the average weight loss tracked by Barnard, he found that the longer you are a vegetarian, the more weight you will lose.
You May Gain Some Healthy Bacteria in Your Gut
Switching over to a vegetarian diet is discomforting at first because of the bloat you might initially experience, but your digestive system will likely benefit from more healthy bacteria, with Liz Applegate, PhD, director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davi, stating:
“Your body has digestive enzymes that handle the proteins in both meat and plants, and that doesn’t change when you stop eating meat.”
According to Applegate, all the indigestible carbohydrates in plant protein sources and other plant-based foods can alter the bacterial profile in your intestines, and researchers believe that new carbs can help boost the population of healthy bacteria they contain.
The uncomfortable bloated and gassy feeling will go away once your intestinal tract adapts to the new bacteria, so don’t throw in the towel so soon…
You will Lower the Risk of Chronic Diseases
Several large studies involving more than 76,000 men and women and comparing vegetarians and non-vegetarians with similar lifestyles demonstrate that death from ischemic heart disease is 24 percent lower in vegetarians than in meat-eaters, likely because of lower levels of inflammation.
“Plant-based diets have been proven time and again to be anti-inflammatory,” says Emily Bailey, RD, director of nutrition coaching, sports nutrition, eating disorders, and weight management at NutriFormance in St. Louis.
You Must Tread Carefully
Of course, the controversy surrounding a vegetarian diet is not completely unfounded, with research showing that it is inherently deficient in body-essential nutrients such as zinc, iron and even vitamin B12, as well as muscle-building proteins. As such, it is recommended that vegetarians make a special effort to supplement their diet within a reasonable limit.
Are you a vegetarian or looking to become one? Let us know why you believe eating meat isn’t the way to go.
Science Has Found The Best Way To Wash Pesticides Off Apples
Polishing an apple with your shirt might get rid of some dust and dirt, but removing the pesticides will require a little more work.
New research has found that washing apples with baking soda, the common yet miraculous household product, could be all you need to eliminate most of the residues on the surface of apples and other fruits.
Pesticides have long been used to increase crop yield, but rising concerns over their adverse effect on human health has many people talking. While the exact effects depend on the type of pesticides and the amount eaten, the World Health Organization says that certain pesticides could harm the developing nervous systems of fetuses and children.
A growing number of people have opted for organic food as way of avoiding the chemicals, but organic food usually command a price premium and there is no guarantee that pesticides were used. In fact, the organic, naturally-occurring pesticides that some organic farms use aren’t necessarily safer.
Washing has been and remains the standard practice used by both consumers and the food industry to remove pesticides, but some of the plant-protecting compounds that get absorbed by the skin of fruits and vegetables might be more resilient to current cleaning methods. To find the best method, Lili He, Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and colleagues conducted a study in which they applied two common pesticides — the fungicide thiabendazole, which past research has shown can penetrate apple peels, and the insecticide phosmet — to organic Gala apples and then washed apples with three different liquids: tap water, a 1 percent baking soda/water solution, and a U.S.-EPA-approved commercial bleach solution often used on produce.
The baking soda solution proved the most effective at removing pesticides, eliminating 80 percent of the thiabendazole and 96 percent of the phosmet, respectively, after 12 and 15 minutes of the fruits being soaked. Plain tap water and the bleach solution were far less effective.
The different percentages are likely due to thiabendezole’s greater absorption into the apple. Mapping images showed that thiabendazole had penetrated up to 80 micrometers deep into the apples, while phosmet was detected at a depth of only 20 micrometers.
So, there you have it, if washing is your preferred method of removing pesticides off your fruits and vegetables, using a baking soda solution is the way to go. If all other options are to be considered, then peeling your produce is probably your best bet.
You Binge Eat Because You’re Sleep-Deprived
There have been many studies correlating sleep deprivation with a wide range of health risks, including decrease in alertness and increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. But what about a possible link with food cravings?
Researchers have long known that lack of sleep is associated with binge eating or just plain eating uncontrollably whenever and wherever, but a new study published in online journal Sleep suggests that the same chemical mechanism behind the munchies might be why sleep-deprived people not only feel hungrier, but also become buckle in the face of a big chocolate bar.
The study involved 14 volunteers aged 18 to 30, all of whom were first given four nights of either normal (8.5 hours) or interrupted sleep (4.5 hours) and then two meals and unrestricted access to all kind of snacks — both healthy (e.g., fruit and yogurt) and less-healthy options (e.g., chips and cake).
When the researchers monitored their endocannabinoid (eCB) levels, they found that those participants who had been sleep-deprived reported feeling hungrier and tended to eat the less-healthy snacks.
Moreover, they eat nearly double the fat and protein of the well-rested participants and exhibited an exaggerated cycle in their endocannabinoid levels, with an especially high level in the afternoon — around the same time they reported feeling the hungriest.
Endocannabinoids are chemicals that our bodies naturally create to play a part in such physiological processes as appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. They also to activate the same receptors that get people high from consuming marijuana, explaining the temptation for food stemming from sleep deprivation.
Have you ever felt so tired as to almost feel high? Well, this might be the reason…
Scientists hope these findings will lead to further scientific discoveries on food cravings that would aid in the treatment and control of binge eating.
Improve Your Gut Health By Eating Mangoes
If you suffer from constipation, a mango might just be what the doctor ordered.
A new pilot study carried out by Texas A & M University and published in the the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that mangoes contain a combination of polyphenols and fiber that is more effective than an equivalent amount of fiber powder in relieving constipation.
Susanne U. Mertens-Talcott, a corresponding author of the four-week study and an associate professor in the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A & M University, stated:
“Our findings suggest that mango offers an advantage over fiber supplements because of the bioactive polyphenols contained in mangos that helped reduce markers of inflammation and change the make-up of the microbiome, which includes trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in our digestive track. Fiber supplements and laxatives may aid in the treatment of constipation, but they may not fully address all symptoms, such as intestinal inflammation.”
Researchers took 36 adult men and women with chronic constipation and randomly divided them into two groups — a mango group that ate about 300 grams of mango a day (equivalent to about 2 cups or 1 mango) and a fiber group that incorporated the equivalent amount of fiber powder (1 teaspoon or 5 grams of dietary psyllium fiber supplement) into their daily diet.
A food questionnaire was then given to the participants to assess their food intake and ensure their eating habits remained consistent (i.e. equivalent amounts of calories, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fat) and measures of constipation severity were taken at the beginning and end of four weeks.
Their analysis revealed that while both the mango and fiber groups improved over the course of the study, mangoes proved more effective in reducing the symptoms of constipation than fiber alone.
Mango supplementation significantly improved constipation status (e.g. stool frequency, consistency and shape), increased short chain fatty acids levels, which indicate improvement of intestinal microbial composition, and helped to reduce certain biomarkers of inflammation.
Mangoes have long been know to be a rich source of dietary fiber, but Texas A & M University’s study is possibly the only study ever to be dedicated to the efficacy of the tasty fruit at relieving constipation.
But as promising as these findings are, the researchers concluded that more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism behind the protective effect of mangoes in constipation and the role mango polyphenols may play in supporting the beneficial effects of fiber.
A mango day keeps your food moving smoothly and easily, right?