Monday, February 11, 2013

Fiber 101

One thing is for sure: if you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle and have good eating habits, then fibers are one of the must-haves in your diet!
However, what exactly are dietary fibers, how many types are there and what are their benefits?

1.    What exactly are dietary fibers?

Fibers are a type of carbohydrates that is not digested by the human organism. Although listed on nutrition labels under “Total carbohydrates”, they provide 0 calories as they are not broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Fibers are divided into two main groups:

-          Soluble fibers: They dissolve in water forming a gel and are easily digested by bacteria in the human colon.
Types: gums, pectins, psyllium and some hemicelluloses.
-          Insoluble fibers: non viscous, less fermentable, these fibers absorb water and speed the movement of material through your digestive system.
Types: cellulose, lignins, resistant starch, hemicellulose.

2.  Benefits and sources of each group of fibers

Whether soluble or insoluble, fibers have many undeniable benefits:

Soluble fibers

-          Barley
-          Oats
-          Oat Bran
-          Rye
-          Fruits (apples, citrus)
-          Legumes (especially green peas and black eyed peas)
-          Seaweed
-          Seeds and husks
-          Vegetables

Lower cholesterol and heart disease risk:

-          Soluble fibers bind with cholesterol containing compounds and carry them out with the feces. And since these compounds are needed in digestion, cholesterol stocks are mobilized in order to synthesize more. This is how the body will be able to get rid of the cholesterol and prevent its elevation in the blood.
-          Diets that are rich in fibers are usually low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol. They also provide antioxidants and are usually associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Control blood glucose:

Soluble fibers slow glucose absorption and prevent a rapid elevation of its concentration in the blood often predisposing to diabetes.
For people with established diabetes, a high fiber diet can modulate blood glucose levels and help prevent medical complications.

Soften stools:

Soluble fibers hold moisture in stools making them softer, thus making the process of defecation easier.

Insoluble fibers

-          Brown rice
-          Fruits
-          Legumes
-          Vegetables (cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts)
-          Wheat bran
-          Whole grains

Fight constipation:

Insoluble fibers are more concerned with fighting constipation because they add bulk to stools helping them pass more quickly through the intestines.

3.  Common benefits of both groups of fibers

Soluble and insoluble fibers can have common benefits. In fact they are good for:

-          Maintaining the health of the digestive tract
Both types of fibers can help prevent diseases such as hemorrhoids (swelling of the rectal veins), diverticulosis (infection of diverticula, abnormally bulging pockets in the colon wall) and appendicitis. Studies have also proven they can protect against colon cancer by diluting cancer-causing agents and speeding their removal from the colon. Additionally, when soluble fibers ferment, they form small fat molecules which can activate cancer killing enzymes and reduce inflammation in the colon.
-          Weight management
Fibers can help regulate weight by slowing gastric emptying, making you feel full longer! In consequence, your food consumption will be considerably reduced.

Now that you know what they are, you should start including them in your diet. Learn about that in our next article!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fit in the stormy weather!

Doesn’t that winter cold weather and heavy rain just pull you back into your bed every single time? Isn’t it amazing to just sit on your couch and watch the storm from your window? And isn’t it annoying to put on your sportswear and go to the gym?

 If your answer was yes to those questions, then this article was written JUST FOR YOU! It’s here to tell you that you don’t need to become obese by the end of the season! You can simply follow these tips in order to maintain a healthy body through indoor physical activity.

1.    Fat burning

Unless you have a treadmill at home or you own a mansion where you can actually jog, there’s no way you can burn the extra fat!


Here are some aerobic or fat burning activities you can do indoors:

-          Dancing: Yes! Just put a 30 minute playlist daily and start shaking! Focus on all parts of your body from the shoulders to the hips and down to the feet. For us girls, belly dancing might be one of the best activity we can do to work out our entire body. And boys, we know you’ve got the right moves to seduce us but you can always learn some more!
-          Jumping rope: Feel like a little kid? Why not! If you don’t, you will see your weight jump much higher than you’d want it to. You can do as many sets as you want. Just try to reach 30 minutes per day.
-          Go up the stairs: Put those running shoes on and start walking up and down the stairs. If you run into your neighbor, just pretend you were doing something on the roof.
-          For once I say thank god for technology! Nintendo’s Wii can help you burn some calories through their sports CDs. Choose tennis, ping pong, etc.
-          Play with your dog: Run around the house with your dog and play with it so you can get both your hearts pumping.

2.  Muscle training

Just like we always say, muscle training can increase your metabolism. In other words, it can increase the number of calories you burn at rest every day.
Here’s what you can do at home:
-          Push-ups: Don’t give up too quickly on push-ups. Even though, they can be very annoying and hard to do but once you get used to them, they become easier to handle. They are very beneficial as they can work muscles of the upper arm (biceps and triceps), abdomen (for those six packs you’re looking for), pectoral muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor) and deltoid muscles (shoulders).
-          Pull-ups: Not so pleasant? Maybe! But if you take a good look at their benefits you will definitely change your mind. Pull-ups can work out your trunk, arms, shoulders, abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, hands and forearms. Now get a hold of a bar and start pulling!

-          Weight lifting: You can buy small weights and do biceps, triceps, etc.
-          Sit-ups: As you may already know it, sit-ups will work out your abs. But beware! They will not burn the fat you have around the belly! They can only strengthen your muscles. So, if you have a beer belly, try to go for aerobic activities first and then start with resistance training. 
-          Squats: They can strengthen your legs, back, thighs and buttocks as well as your entire body. Studies have shown that they are very good for your knees. They can also increase your balance, strength and muscle tone.

-          Lunges: This activity is destined to work out your hips, butt and upper leg muscles. It is very important in order to have a nicer shape. You can challenge yourself a bit more by carrying weights in your hands while doing lunges.

-          Boxing: It is a type of activity that is 70 to 80% anaerobic. It can help you burn some fat but it mainly strengthens your muscles.  

8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise are required in order to benefit from it.

Don’t let the storm be an excuse for those extra kilograms. Close that laptop of yours and start moving!