Tag Archives: Fruits and Vegetables

Written Just for You – Two New Books

Two New Books

Just Released by Nancy N Wilson!

Juicing for Life

Growing Tomatoes

Pick up your copies today!  ONLY $4.99/each

 Available: eBook and Paperback 

Both great books for your library to help support and sustain Healthy Living 

Growing Tomatoes

kindle_1 (1)

Are You Eating Enough Fiber?

There is an abundance of commercials touting the benefits of fiber in your diet. So, what is fiber and why is it important?

Fiber-rich Foods
Image by Annata 78

It is interesting that fiber is actually an indigestible component of many foods – including fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Unlike most foods that we eat, the body does not digest it. It passes quickly through the digestive tract essentially whole (there is no breakdown of fiber), which is vital for good health. The fiber creates bulk which helps move waste and harmful carcinogens through the digestive tract.

When your diet does not have enough fiber you may suffer with some uncomfortable problems: constipation, sluggishness and irregularity. On the other hand, people who eat lots of fiber typically maintain healthier weights than those who do not; and it lowers the risk of developing  heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer.

The reason that foods with lots of fiber help with weight control is because they make you feel full longer. A good example of this is apples (loaded with fiber) – think about how they fill you up, satisfy your hunger and are low in calories. When shopping, keep in mind that fiber-rich foods have less calories per serving than highly processed foods that essentially have very little fiber.

Don’t be misguided into thinking that processed fruit juices are good for you. People often make the mistake of substituting bottled apple juice for soda – thinking they are making a healthier choice.  Unfortunately, most pasteurized fruit juices have been stripped of their nutrients and contain a high-sugar content. In other words, they aren’t much healthier than soda, if at all.

Make the smart choice and eat the fruit rather than buying processed juices. The very best beverage is filtered water. The only other beverage I would recommend is freshly made fruit and vegetable juices. These are filled with nutrients and the pulp will fill your up and provide fiber at the same time.

Get rid of overly processed TV dinners and prepackaged foods and start serving high-fiber foods for diner. That single change in your diet will go a long way in helping you maintain a healthy weight. And . . . as I continue to say – choose foods as close to their natural state as possible. For example, eat broccoli raw or lightly steamed until it is bright green and slightly crunchy. Steaming vegetables not only helps retain the nutrients, it also retains the fiber and water content, both of which help you feel full longer.

Image by fo2Trends
Image by fo2Trends

A healthy habit is to start every meal with a raw fruit plate, veggie plate, mixed salad, or a glass of freshly made vegetable/fruit juice. Take it easy on the salad dressings and/or dip, which can add extra sugar and fat negating  the nutritional value of the veggies.

One way to limit the high-fat  salad dressings is to serve it on the side and dip the tongs of the fork into the dressing before picking up pieces of salad. This provides a crunching, tasty bite without  the excess dressing. When you get used to eating salad this way, you will wonder why it took you so long to discover it. Chances are you will cut your salad dressing serving from two or thee tablespoons to less than one.

You can make delicious  dressings from fruit and spices. Try blending mango, tomatoes, onions, basil and garlic. You can create salad magic with your blender and amaze your family and friends with the tasty combinations you create.

Change your mindset and when you need a snack, reach for raw fruits and veggies. It is impossible to over eat these wonderfully crunchy, fiber-filled, nutrient-filled, low-calorie foods. I guarantee that you will feel better than when you devour a plate of cheese and crackers or half a bag of potato chips between meals – and you won’t be eating very many calories to boot.

Foods that Keep Your Blood Sugar Steady Throughout the Day

If you struggle with blood sugar spikes and dips, you should take a look at your diet and eat foods that will keep your blood sugar steady.

Food that are high in carbohydrates and have a Glycemic Index of 70+ will affect your blood sugar adversely, which is not good for anyone. However, if you eat foods throughout the day that have a low Glycemic Index, your blood sugar will remain steady.

In case you do not know, the Glycemic Index (GI) ranks foods by how much they raise blood sugar. Anyone who lives with Type 2 Diabetes, hypoglycemia, or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes are probably aware of the Index, but everyone should be familiar with it.

A roller coaster ride of blood sugar levels rising and falling throughout the day can make you feel pretty bad. It is important to recognize the symptoms and do something about the problem.  Awareness is not enough. Prevention is critical in order to reduce the increased risks for some health problems that can result if the spikes and dips are not controlled.

Melissa Li-Ng, MD, endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio states, “Keeping blood sugar stable can help prevent the long-term consequences of fluctuations.” She goes on to explain that high blood sugar can cause a number of symptoms, including: frequent urination, thirst, fatigue, and blurred vision.

On the other hand, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can cause headaches, irritability, weakness or fatigue, dizziness, sweating, and lack of coordination.

Christy Parkin, MSN, RN, CDE, Health Management Resources, Inc. Diabetes Education and Consulting Services,  Indianapolis, Indiana states, “Blood glucose levels that fluctuate wildly up and down are more dangerous than high blood glucose alone…it leads to damage of the cells known as oxidative stress. This damage is a predictor of cardiovascular disease in diabetes.

Foods to Control Your Blood Sugar Levels

Fruits and Vegetables

There are some very tasty fruits with low GI numbers: apples, cherries, grapefruit, pears, plums, and strawberries. The same is true for some wonderful vegetables:  artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, and onions. All of these are low GI; plus they are low in calories, and packed with fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer. The result is that eating these foods will help stop the craving for snacks between meals.

Good Fats

Poached Salmon
Image by HLPhoto

The fats in your diet should be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. They taste good and are good for you. You need them in your diet. In general, nuts, olive oils, avocado, and fish are sources of unsaturated fats. On the other hand, it is important to avoid saturated fats and trans fats.

Olive oil and peanut oil are unsaturated, contain no carbohydrates, and have a GI of zero.  This means they have no effect on blood sugar and can be used in food preparation without concern about impacting your blood sugar.

“Fatty” fish such as: trout, herring, tuna, mackerel, halibut and salmon are also good unsaturated fats – and good for you. These fish provide Omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels in the blood stream.

Protein

Protein fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer.  Good sources of Low GI protein are: legumes, nuts, lean meat and fish. When you have plenty of protein in your diet, you are less likely to want snacks.

Try mixing nut butters with fruits or vegetables like apples and celery for a high protein, but low GI snack. Vacuum-packed tuna or low-fat cheese on 100% whole-wheat crackers are also good. And, one of my favourite snacks is crisp celery or carrot sticks dipped in hummus.

Whole Grain

Quinoa and Broccoli
Quinoa and Broccoli

Avoid all refined flour (white, enriched in particular). Stick with minimally-processed whole grain products. They have a low GI value and add rich flavors to breads and pasta.  Replace your white rice with quinoa (reasonably priced, filled with protein, and tasty) or wild rice (delicious, but expensive). Other whole grains you may also want to try are: spelt, rye and barley.

In Conclusion

If you are a diabetic, or have trouble controlling your blood sugar, eating the aforementioned foods will help you keep it steady. A steady blood sugar level means less cravings, which not only reduce the number of calories you would normally consume, helps you stay away from high GI foods.

Photo Credit: (Quinoa and Broccoli Wednesday’s Dinner via photopin (license)

What Causes Constipation?

Image by hunterseakerhk
Image by hunterseakerhk

Constipation is one of the more common digestive ailments. It is right up there with heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach pain. Many people struggle with the problem, but it is not something typically discussed in polite conversation – they simply suffer in silence. Some are even hesitant to talk to their doctors about it and try to self-medicate with OTC drugs – some that help and some that can make the problem worse.

The root of most constipation problems is diet – especially today where many diets are primarily sugar-filled, nutrient-empty calories and a lack of fiber.

Constipation can be easily resolved by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, plus 100% whole grains to ensure that you are getting an adequate amount of fiber in your diet.

Unfortunately, the majority of people eat less than one-half the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. I have no idea who started the idea that you should not eat much fruit, but that popular trend is alive and well. My recommendation is to forget about such nonsense and enjoy nature’s bounteous harvest.

Everyone has heard, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” There is actually some truth in that. Apples are not only good for you, they are delicious and filled with nutrients and fiber. There are so many varieties you should be able to find one (or two) that suit your particular taste buds.  My favorites are Gala and Fuji.

I realize that fruit can be a little pricey, but even if you cannot afford a wide variety of fruits,  an orange a day, an apple a day, plus – a ripe banana and a slice of 100 percent whole grain toast each day, will improve your digestion exponentially. That practice, along with drinking plenty of filtered water, should end any problems you are having with constipation. If you have been eating badly for a long time, it may take a few weeks for your body to catch up, especially if you have been adding laxatives to the mix.

Basic Steps to Cure Constipation (And Feel Better Overall)

  • Add nutrient-filled, fiber foods to your diet
  • Drink lots of water (6 to 8 glasses each day)
  • Avoid all processed food
  • Move your body in some form of exercise at least 15 to 20 minutes each day
  • Take time to relax and go

Two habits that can help relieve the problem:

  1. Take a relaxing walk each day.
  2. Try to move your bowels at approximately the same time each day. Believe it or not, you can train your bowels to move at a convenient time of day. Don’t avoid the urge to move your bowels. Putting off bowel movement is one of the primary causes of constipation. Once you establish the habit of going when you need to go and slowly become more regular, you will be able to try going in the morning before work, or at night after dinner.

Good luck and good health!