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Tag Archives: healthy living
Folic Acid, a vitamin B variant, can be extremely beneficial for women, especially those who are pregnant or are planning to conceive. This water-soluble form of vitamin B9 could safeguard the fetus from being born with grave disorders like ‘spina bifida’ or anencephaly. If young and pregnant women took this vitamin on a daily basis, nearly 70% of birth defects associated with the spine and brain would never have happened.
This vitamin B type naturally occurs in legumes, nuts, and specific vegetables. However, most of those who are on their way of becoming pregnant or already are do not consume sufficient amounts of these food items routinely. Hence, their bodies do not get the daily required dosage of Folic acid.
The best option of supplying the daily quota to the body is by taking pills and supplements.
Folic Acid: What is it?
Folate and Folic Acid are water-soluble vitamin B9 variants. They can be found in the common dietary items we tend to consume from day to day like grains, beef liver, beef kidney, eggs, meats, dairy products, seafood, nuts, fruits, green vegetables, leafy vegetables and so on. Vitamins, fortified grain products and breakfast cereals include folic acid in artificial form. Our bodies absorb and ingest the synthetic type more effectively than the natural variant.
Benefits of Folic Acid
Though researchers are still in the dark as to why and how Folic acid contributes towards averting birth defects, there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove the above assertion. As a matter of fact, the vitamin can check the incidence of such defects in the early stages of pregnancy, much before they realize that they’re carrying. These defects are usually related to the unborn baby’s vertebral column and brain and are classified as ‘Neural Tube Defects’. Encephalophele, spina bifida and anencephaly are the most common NTDs.
Folate also plays a key role in preventing the baby from other health defects at the time of birth like autism, cleft palate, cleft lip, and cerebral aneurism. A study conducted recently by University of California, Davis led to the finding that pregnant women who regularly took natural foods containing folic acid were less vulnerable to give birth to babies diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). These women were also at lesser risk of delivering babies with NTDs, their exposure to home pesticides or insecticides (a high risk factor for autism) notwithstanding.
Furthermore, folic acid is also required for the healthy development of the fetus and placenta. This nutrient also helps in the embryo’s cell division and DNA production and its deficiency could hinder the process of development. According to Diane Ashton, MD and deputy medical director for the ‘March of Dimes’, 50% of pregnancies in the US are spontaneous.
Hence, it becomes all the more essential for women in the child bearing age category to take supplements of this vitamin daily to keep themselves (and presumably their unborn babies) out of harm’s way.
How much Folic Acid to take every day?
As per Institute of Medicine’s, CDC’s, the March of Dimes’ recommendations, that pregnant women should take 600 micrograms of the nutrient from a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin or consume one bowl of enriched breakfast cereal containing 400mcg. These institutions also suggested that women in general should take nothing less than 400mcg of the synthetic Folate every day.
Side effects of Folic acid
There are some downsides of consuming the vitamin B9 variant on a routine basis. The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a report mentioning that women taking folic acid in supplement form were at high risk of succumbing to breast cancer. Many researches and studies have pinpointed a link between supplements of Folate and ectopic pregnancy, leukemia, heart problems, and asthma.
Pregnant women should decrease their consumption of the nutrient following the first trimester. From the 2nd trimester till delivery, women can source the vitamin from food items.
Image credit: fotografyarte
Living in the 21st cent is fraught with stress for the majority of individuals, regardless of age, gender, and nature of occupation or profession. The maximum stress results from trying to achieve the perfect work-life balance which seems elusive for almost all of us. Your normal lifestyle goes awry as you make every effort to establish the equilibrium that is appropriate for you.
In the process, you end up cultivating bad habits that you find very difficult to get rid of. But if you are a health-conscious individual, you are acutely aware of the significance and indispensability of healthy living. You know that neglecting your health will cost you heavily in the long run and in the worst case scenario might compel you to take premature retirement.
Healthy living is the sum total of healthy habits including consumption of balanced meals, exercising regularly, and abstaining from smoking or drinking. Developing good habits and sticking to them calls for nurturing a strong will and altering the mindset which many find an uphill task. Nevertheless, you must be prepared to make some degree of sacrifice if you wish to live healthy and live long. Following are the five ways you stand to benefit by leading a disciplined lifestyle.
1. You stay healthy and feel good
You will not be able to work efficiently if you do not feel good and vice versa. That there is a psychosomatic connection between the mind and the body has long been established. Healthy living promotes the smooth release of endorphins which are cerebral chemicals responsible for making you feel relaxed and spirited.
In order to encourage the production and secretion of endorphins, you’ll need to take nutritious and balanced diets, indulge in physical activities, and keeping yourself socially active. If you follow the abovementioned healthy habits on a regular basis, you’ll not only look better but feel better as well. And feeling good about yourself can go a long way in boosting your self-esteem and confidence.
2. Your weight is kept under a leash
It does not need to be emphasized that working out routinely and eating right not only prevents you from becoming obese but also lets you stay fit and trim. If Mayo Clinic is to be believed, staying in good physical shape keeps you from becoming overweight. Walking, cycling, swimming or jogging for 45 minutes to 1 hour daily will keep you slim as well as help stimulate the immune system, boost energy levels, and better cardiovascular health.
There are a few habits you can cultivate easily and will require a minimum effort like climbing the stairs rather than rushing into an elevator, walking the last 2-3kms to your home and so on. On the other hand, never skip breakfast which is the most important meal of the day but instead feast on fruits and vegetable preparations. Limit intake of fast and processed foods as much as you can.
3. You feel energetic throughout the day
The necessity of sticking to a balanced and nutritious diet and exercising habitually are also essential for keeping yourself energetic all through the working day. Include generous amounts and portions of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grain preparations, and dairy products containing minimal fat in your everyday meals. Alternatively, maintaining a consistent workout program comes in handy for furthering endurance and building lean mass which in turn furnishes you with sufficient energy for healthy living.
4. Boosts the capacity of your immune system in combating diseases
Consuming healthy and wholesome foods regularly implies that your metabolism is good and the immune system functions effectively thereby keeping lifestyle diseases and disorders at bay. Routinely exercising means the cells, tissues, muscles, cartilages, and bones in your body remain consistently mobilized.
5. Existence is prolonged
Healthy living is tantamount to leading a disciplined life which in turn implies holding onto good habits that ultimately betters your longevity.
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Up till now, it was generally believed that a large variety of foods or food items that titillated the taste buds the moment you tucked into them ultimately led to your putting on weight. However, recent studies and researches on the health effects of consuming these foods have indicated that these items could also take a toll on your metabolism as well. Hitherto, the perception that predominated amongst dieticians, nutritionists, and health-conscious individuals was that weight loss or gain resulting from purported healthy food was exclusively dependent upon thermodynamic laws.
Simply put, you tended to put on weight if your daily calorie intake was higher than the amount you expended. But if the current trials are to be believed, equal calorific amounts of specific food items say margarine or soda, inside your system, may not affect you in the same way, unlike what was previously thought. Following are six distinct food items whose consumption will not only boost up your calorie balance but also have other adverse effects.
Soda never makes it to the diet chart of any individual who swears by healthy living. The carbonated drink has earned a bad name owing to its presence of an artificial sweetener called HFCS or high-fructose corn syrup. HFCS is not only a cheap but also a detrimental sweetening agent that is used in a range of soft and fizzy drinks as well as processed foods.
As per findings of the studies, sugar when consumed in the form of fructose can be more damaging for health when compared with consumption of other sugar forms like glucose or sucrose (in equal quantities). HFCS can be a risk factor for causing obesity due to its adverse or negative impact on metabolism. Drinking soda-based beverages regularly lead to ‘metabolic syndrome’ making you highly susceptible to suffering from stroke, diabetes or heart disease.
2. White Bread
White bread is one highly treated or processed food that your body finds easy to break into smaller fragments and digests. This is so because fibers which help boost the metabolic mechanism are absent in white breads-the substance or element is done away with during the processing stage. No extra calories are expended or burnt by your body during the digestion or ingestion process which ultimately brings down the normal functioning rate of your metabolism. If your body doesn’t burn the extra or unspent calories, these get converted and stored as fats. You’ll be better off consuming healthy food items that have been made out of whole grains of rice, wheat, barley instead of ones that don’t contain any fiber.
In the pecking order of fats, trans-fats also called trans-fatty acid are worse than saturated fats owing to their potential to spike up the LDL cholesterol level thereby putting you at high risk of suffering from strokes and CAD. Following FDA’s directive to clearly label the ingredients of processed food items way back in 1999, most of the foods laden with trans-fats have been removed from the racks of departmental stores. Nevertheless, baked foods and margarine blocks or sticks contain a reasonably high level of trans-fats that can cause insulin resistance. Developing a resistance to insulin, which plays a key role in metabolizing carbohydrates and fats may ultimately lead to slowing down of metabolism.
4. Vegetable or Canola Oil
Canola oil which was previously promoted as healthy food is now being considered as a harmful ingredient that might actually decelerate the metabolic process owing to its high content of omega-6 fatty acids.
5. Farm Reared Apples
Vegetables and fruits grown in farms where a high level of pesticides and fertilizers are used can cause metabolic changes leading to fat buildup. Though organic food items including apples are more expensive, consuming the same would keep you in good health and save your visits to the clinic.
6. Farmed Beef
Farmed beef, in the long run, can turn out to be more damaging to the health, compared to beef obtained from livestock that has been fed on grass. Farmed beef contain antibiotics that drive away from both the bad and good bacteria from our guts. And there is a strong correlation between gaining weight and alteration in the bacterial structure of the gut.