Monday, October 31, 2011

Fire Up Your Metabolism!

“I have a slow metabolism” That’s the excuse we tend to use to explain the extra weight we carry in the belly or around the hips. We’ve never tested how fast our metabolism is but we suspect that it’s the main issue. What exactly is the metabolism and what affects it? And if it’s true that we do have a slow one, how can we increase it?

What is a metabolism?
The metabolism is the amount of calories or energy the body spends in order to maintain its vital functions. Think of it as a car that needs fuel. The only difference is, your body needs energy even if it’s resting. Any basic act such as respiration requires burning calories.

What affects the metabolism?
The rate at which each of us burns calories is different. That’s why we talk about a slow or a fast metabolism. It is affected by:

Heredity: your metabolic rate is partially determined by your genes.

Body composition: The fat-free mass (any part of your body except fat) is a predictor of your energy expenditure. To make it simpler: your muscles require a higher maintenance than your body fat. And that’s why, if you have more muscles, then you definitely burn more calories during the day. For example, if we have two people with the same weight and height but each with a different body composition; the one that has more muscles will have a faster metabolism.

Age: As you grow older, you start losing muscle mass and gaining fat. So your metabolic rate decreases at a rate of 5% per decade after 40.

Sex: Sex differences in metabolic rate are primarily due to differences in body composition. Women usually have a higher percentage of fat in their bodies. And that’s why their metabolism is 5 to 10% lower than men.

Hormonal Status: It can affect the metabolic rate in many cases.
Those who have a disorder such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism (hyper or hypoactivity of the thyroid gland) will have, respectively, a higher or lower metabolism.
Periods of emotional excitement or stress can cause the release of adrenaline, a hormone that increases energy expenditure.
And finally, the metabolic rate varies during the different phases of the menstrual cycle. Studies show that it increases during the time period between ovulation and the onset of menstruation.

Body weight: Your metabolism increases proportionally to your weight. In reality, your body spends more energy in order to carry any extra weight. This explains the fact that when a person is on diet, they lose weight very quickly at first. Then, when their metabolism decreases, the weight loss pace becomes slower.

Other factors: Extreme temperatures affect the metabolic rate. People living in tropical climates usually burn 5 to 20% more calories than those living in temperate areas. Also, exercising in high temperatures can also increase the metabolic load of about 5% from increased sweat gland activity. However, we definitely do not recommend self suffocation!
Extreme cold environments affect the metabolism depending on protective clothing and the insulation available from body fat.

Foods and behaviors that can boost your metabolism
It is true that there are unchangeable determinants of the metabolic rate such as age, gender and genes. But, luckily, there are others you can work on in order to increase your daily calorie expenditure. There are some foods and behaviors that seem to help you do that:

Physical activity: The best way to boost your metabolism is to exercise on a regular basis. Go for muscle building activities: the more muscles, the more calories spent! And girls, don’t worry! We don’t have the hormones necessary to develop those huge muscles we fear. So, head towards the gym and start lifting some weights.

Eat more frequently: Eating 5-6 small meals seems more helpful than eating 3 large ones. The key is not to starve your body because when you do, it will decrease the metabolism in order to compensate.

DO NOT skip breakfast: It is the only way to let your body know that you woke up. Start feeding it so that it starts functioning. If you’re not used to having breakfast, we have the right tips for you.

Water: drinking water seems to increase the metabolism. In fact, burning calories requires proper hydration. Thus, people who drink more than 8 glasses of water a day have a higher metabolism than those who drink four.

Coffee and Green tea: They seem to increase significantly the energy expenditure. It is probably due to their content in caffeine and catechins.

Protein and carbohydrates: Their digestion by the body seems to require 25% compared to fat. That’s why you should always go for a low fat meal in order to maximize your energy expenditure.

Spices and hot peppers: they contain compounds that can elevate energy expenditure. Even though the effect is temporary, it wouldn’t hurt to add a tablespoon of spices or peppers to your dishes.

Avoid crash diets: when we say crash diets, we mean ones that involve eating less than 1000 calories per day. Not only do they put your body on starvation mode, but they also cause a weight loss through loss of muscle! Both consequences will lead to a decrease in metabolism!

As you’ve read, many foods and behaviors can rev up your metabolism. However, the most certain way would be to exercise regularly. But before you start panicking, why don’t you visit your dietitian and test your body composition. You might be surprised by the resuts!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Appetite for SEX: Part II

So we started listing the foods that can better your sex life from A to C in the first part... The alphabet doesn't end here! So Part II is there to complete your knowledge around the subject...

They’re not the sexiest food around but they help balance hormone levels. And that is important for a healthy libido. The vitamins B5 and B6 they contain can also fight stress. So have some eggs for breakfast and watch the results after dinner.

Some suggest that figs are aphrodisiacs because of their shape. They are very similar to sex organs. This may be true but not entirely. In fact, they contain amino acids which increase libido and boost sexual stamina.

Bad on breath but good on sex drive. If you’ve reached a point in your relationship where a bad breath doesn’t matter anymore, then you can go for garlic as an aphrodisiac. In fact, when it is chopped, it releases allicin, a compound that improves blood flow to sexual organs.

Ginger and ginseng
They increase circulation. Ginseng also seems to increase libido by exciting the central nervous system.

And that’s where the word honeymoon came from! In fact, centuries ago, newlyweds in Europe drank honey wine the first month of marriage to improve their sexual stamina. Honey is rich in B vitamins (needed for testosterone production) as well as boron (helps the body metabolize and use estrogen).

In ancient China, people used licorice to enhance love and lust. The smell appears to be particularly stimulating. A study was conducted to find out how different smells stimulated sexual arousal. It seems that the smell of black licorice increased the blood flow to the penis by 13 percent.

This is a classic aphrodisiac. It is high in zinc which is known to raise sperm and testosterone production. Oysters also contain dopamine, a hormone known to increase libido by stirring the feelings of sexual desire and pleasure. Just pay attention to cleaning the raw oyster very well and removing bacteria as you can end up with food poisoning!

They are known as “love apples”. Their juice, rich in antioxidants, seem to increase blood flow to sex organs. A research done on 53 males with libido problems showed the following results: 50% of those males reported an increase in their sexual performance after drinking pomegranate juice.

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, it can boost your mood. It also contains Vitamin D which has proven to be an anti-depressant. And you know that a bad mood dooms a sexual encounter!

Spices, especially Indian curry, contain herbs that can spice up your sexual life. According to a new study, they can boost your sex drive by at least a quarter. Cardamom is also considered, in many cultures, a very powerful aphrodisiac and a treatment to impotence. In fact, it increases blood flow in certain important areas!

Love your body!

Aside from all the foods you can consume in order to better your sex life, the most important thing would be to love your body and take good care of it. In fact, physical and emotional well-being are key to a satisfying sex life. 
For example, if you are overweight, you may feel a decrease in your libido because you just don’t feel attractive. Your consumption of fried and high fat food  will leave you feeling more sluggish than sexy. Excessive sugar, salt, saturated fat and highly processed foods are linked to frigidity, difficulty to reaching orgasm and lack of interest in sex. Cutting back on those types of foods would be a good idea in order to preserve sexual vitality and enhance overall well-being.

In addition to that, clear and flexible arteries allow maximum of blood flow to all the right places during sex, enhancing your pleasure. That’s why you should maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Take care of your body: always go for a balanced diet paired up with the right physical activity and you'll be good to go!

So the secret is out! And the ingredients are in your hands. Now why don’t you head towards the kitchen and make a sexy meal for your partner and just watch the results…


Monday, October 24, 2011

Appetite for SEX

So you’ve been together for years and you feel like the sex has become more of a routine. You don’t desire each other so much anymore and you want to do something to change it. Therapy? Maybe! But first, why don’t you try something easier and less costly?
Here are the foods and behaviors that can help enhance your sex life as well as the ones that you should try to avoid!

Food for a better sex life!

It seems small amounts of alcohol can increase sexual arousal and desire in women. However, both chronic and acute drinking is linked to decreased testosterone production and erectile dysfunction in men. So serve her one drink to loosen her up but try to stay away from the alcohol yourself.

Almonds are a major source of essential fatty acids. They are important for a man’s healthy production of hormones. In addition to that, the smell of almonds seems to arouse passion in females. So, lighting almond scented candles and snacking on some should do the trick!

It contains vitamin E which helps stimulate production of sex hormones in both men and women.

The avocado tree is called “Testicle tree” because its fruits grow in pairs. The fruit looks like the actual body part and contains high levels of folic acid, Vitamin B6 and potassium, which all play important roles in male and female libido. Folic acid helps metabolize proteins, thus giving you more energy; Vitamin B6 helps increase male hormone production; and potassium helps regulate the female thyroid gland, which in turn helps increase female sex drive. This is a food both the man and the woman can enjoy for a better sexual experience.

They help boost male libido because of an enzyme called “bromelain”. They also contain potassium and B vitamins such as riboflavin (vitamin B2) which increase the body’s energy level and are vital to sex-hormone production.

This herb seems to increase circulation, stimulate sex drive and boost fertility. Apparently, the scent is also supposed to drive a couple wild!

Alan Hirsch, M.D., author of Scentsational Sex, explains: “When you chew a stalk of celery, you release androstenone and androstenol odor molecules into your mouth. They can travel up the back of your throat to your nose. Once there, [they] boost your arousal, turning you on and causing your body to send off scents and signals that make you more desirable to women”. Even though you may find it weird, but yes! Chewing on celery will make that woman you’ve wanted to badly jump into your arms!

Chili peppers
Eating chili peppers generates physiological responses in our bodies (e.g., sweating, increased heart rate and circulation) that are similar to those experienced when having sex. The capsaicin they contain is responsible for the effects and is also a good pain reliever. Another reported effect of eating large quantities of chili peppers is an irritation of the genitals and urinary tract that could feel similar to sexual excitement.


It’s no big surprise to find out that chocolate can affect your sex life.

Chocolate seems to be the remedy to all our problems, doesn’t it? Well, this is not purely psychological. It is also scientific. In an Italian research, 163 women were questioned about their chocolate consumption and sexual fulfillment. It turned out “Women who have a daily intake of chocolate showed higher levels of desire than women who did not have this habit. Chocolate can have a positive physiological impact on a woman’s sexuality.” 

The researchers also believe "chocolate could be particularly medicinal for women who shun sex because they are suffering from premenstrual tension. Chocolate is not like a food, it is like a drug. Women who suffer mood swings as a result of their menstrual cycle may also suffer a dip in their sexual function"

Chocolate contains PhenylEthylAmine, a chemical believed to produce the feeling of “being in love”. So when us women talk about our relationship with chocolate, it is not complete non-sense. It has some science to it! In addition to that, dark chocolate has massive amounts of antioxidants that help keep the body in good shape!

Citrus fruits and other vitamin C rich foods
They seem to boost fertility especially for men. Go for strawberries; they’re known to be very sexy and can be dipped in chocolate for a maximum effect!

A, B, C... We're not done yet... the rest is yet to come ;)


Monday, October 17, 2011

Everybody's got the flu- Be unique!

October’s here. It’s the time of the year when you run into people with red noses, carrying a box of tissue and telling you to keep your distance because they’ve got… THE FLU! 
Panic mode: you start shoving vitamin C supplements down your throat; you carry an antibacterial gel everywhere you go; and you discover all kinds of tea there are on the market!
Even though it is not what you want to hear, but nothing can fully protect you from the flu. However, you can always take protective measures to decrease the risk of catching this annoying and alienating disease.

The relationship between diet and flu…
The flu is an acute contagious viral infection characterized by the inflammation of the respiratory tract. Its common symptoms are cough, sneeze, runny nose, fever, chills, muscular pain and weakness.
Even though no specific food has shown it can prevent the flu, a healthy diet can boost the immune system and help the body fight viral infections more efficiently.

Flu prevention diet
Fruits and vegetables
They provide enough vitamins and minerals that allow the good functioning of the immune system: vitamins A, C and E as well as zinc and selenium. Vary you fruits and veggies and keep in mind that spinach and bell pepper have proven to be very protective from the flu.
But why don’t you just take supplements? Isn’t it easier and more efficient? Well, not really. Fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals (antioxidant compounds that have a very positive effect on health). They help boost your immune system and give you a better protection. Go for dark green, red and yellow fruits and vegetables.
Research has proven that having a cup of yogurt a day can decrease risk of catching the flu by 25%. In fact, yogurt and all fermented dairy products contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria that stimulates the immune system.
It is known for its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. A daily consumption of 2 garlic cloves can help you prevent infections. And don’t be scared we have the right techniques to remove garlic smell!
They seem to increase activity of white blood cells that are directly related to the immune system. One serving can also provide 50% of selenium daily needs and 15% of zinc daily needs.
Animal products
Even though it seems like we’re encouraging a vegetarian diet, you shouldn’t forget your protein intake. In fact, meat, fish, poultry and dairy products are very important. The proteins they provide will break down into amino acids, necessary for building components of the immune system.
You were right about that! Black tea and green tea seem to decrease incidence of flu. In fact drinking 5 cups of black tea was related to 10 times higher levels of virus-fighting compounds. Grean tea is suspected to have the same effect. So drink up and don’t forget to hydrate yourself. You need around 8 glasses of water a day because, with all that tea, you will be using the restrooms more often ;)
They provide you with vitamin E and selenium. Thus they are good protectors from the flu. You just need a handful of nuts as a snack and you’re good to go!

Behavioral modifications
Take it easy!
Stress has been related to many illnesses including the flu. So try to reduce it by spending a part of your day doing something you love or maybe just sitting and staring at the wall. Do whatever makes you feel at ease!
Sleep on it
This is the only way to recharge your immunity system. In fact, if your body is tired, it will have no strength to fight off infections. So sleep on an average of 8 hours every day for a better health.
Walk it off…
A daily 30 minute walk can boost the immune system and reduce stress. If you can prolong your activity, it would be even better! However, don’t overdo it. More than 90 minutes a day can have the opposite effect and make you more susceptible to viral infections.
Wash hands
A procedure as simple as washing your hands with warm water and soap can help you reduce greatly the risk of viral infections.

Vitamin C and the common cold
It seems that the common cold is related immediately to vitamin C supplements in our minds. Does that mean it’s true? Well, according to recent studies, vitamin C supplementation has shown a very small benefit in the common cold. It can shorten the duration of less than a day per cold in those taking at least 1g/day.
Apparently, at least 2g/day are necessary in order to create a significant effect. And let’s say that 2g of vitamin C is not risk free!

Every day of our lives, we are exposed to infectious germs. We cannot wear shields and protect ourselves. But we can always have a healthy diet that can reduce as much as possible the risk of infection!