What is Gluten

What is Gluten? Should I go Gluten-Free?

The Gluten-Free Lifestyle: Is it a fad? Is it for me? And in all honesty, what is gluten? So many individuals are willing to swear off gluten for life without truly understanding what it is. First, let’s get a better understanding of this grain before we say goodbye for good.

Gluten Explained: Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grains. The purpose of gluten is two-fold; helping the dough rise and keep its shape, as well as, give dough it’s chewy texture. You will find gluten in pasta, couscous, bread, cookies, cereal, beer, dressings and sauces.

Why would someone go gluten-free? Originally, the gluten-free diet was intended to treat individuals with celiac disease; an inflammation in the small intestines when one does consume gluten products.

But in recent years, the concept of gluten-free has gone mainstream, causing gluten-free products to fly off the shelves. I don’t blame them. I came across a friend’s blog who decided to go gluten-free years ago, due to her sensitivities with gluten, and now she looks terrific. Thanks to a gluten-free diet she is thin, happy and symptom free.

But at the end of the day we forget the main reason behind eliminating this form of nutrient. Before we dig into a bag of gluten-free potato chips, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is your interest in a gluten-free diet?

Have you noticed certain sensitivities after consuming the above mentioned food items? These include diarrhea, gas, bloating, dizziness, constipation (constipation is actually more common with children), chronic fatigue or inflammation in your joints.

If you don’t have these symptoms and simple want to lose weight, a gluten-free diet may not be the best solution.

  1. Am I willing to live a gluten-free lifestyle?

A fairly robust amount of information needs to be done before someone commits to gluten-free. It’s not just swearing off bread, there are so many foods that contain gluten. Even supplement, medications and toothpaste contain gluten.

Some may decide to limit their gluten lifestyle while others wish to completely eliminate it.

  1. How do I begin living a Gluten-Free life?

First we would suggest having a complete check up with your family physician or the appropriate specialists such as an allergist or gastroenterologist.

Self-diagnosis can be risky, as gluten-free diets can cause a nutrient-deficiency. These diets are low in fiber, iron, folate, nicacin, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. Therefore, it is important that you work with a nutritionist or really do your homework.

In the end, unless you do have gluten sensitivities, a life of less bread and pasta, gluten free or not, will lead to a healthier result. Don’t become a victim to gluten-free chips and junk just because of the label.

To learn more about gluten and living a gluten free lifestyle, visit www.glutenfree.com

 

Do you follow a gluten-free lifestyle? What recipes can you recommend?

Fitness Isn’t Just Physically Beneficial

Fitness Isn’t Just Physically Beneficial

One’s physical, mental and emotional health is very important for quality and longevity of life. Emotional and mental health is typically associated with ones social life, sense of belonging, happiness, security, etc. When you think of physical health, what do you think of? Nutrition, physical activity and treatment of sickness, right?

Actually, physical fitness and exercise has a real impact on one’s emotional and mental health for several reasons, according to Sophia Breene’s article in Huffington Post, “13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise.”

First, physical exercise is a major stress reliever. While I know, at first, you may feel added stress at the thought of starting a new exercise routine, once you finally get into the flow of things on a consistent basis, it can actually help reduce stress. This isn’t just a theory, “Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension.”

Speaking of chemicals, exercise increases endorphins in the brain that present feelings of joy and happiness. Some doctors even recommend patients struggling with sadness and depression use exercise to treat their condition. Even just 30 minutes can be beneficial.

Do you ever have trouble remembering dates or names? Physical exercise increases ones memory and learn more efficiently. “Getting sweaty increases production of cells in hippocampus responsible for memory and learning. For this reason, research has linked children’s brain development with level of physical fitness.” The same is applicable for adults as well!

With that said, there are physical benefits included, which in turn impact emotional and mental wellness through self-confidence. As you start a physical exercise regimen, you may lose some weight, gain muscle or notice certain areas getting more trim. After time, you will probably notice these things when looking in the mirror and your clothes may fit a little better, which may make you more confident in yourself physically.

Since we are being brutally honest, getting older is an unavoidable part of life. As we age, our brains age too, which means that we are more likely to get degenerative diseases or battle a losses of brain function in some areas, like memory (explained above). “While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45 Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.”

 

We would love to hear from you: what benefits have you seen as a result of physical exercise?

Sitting is the New Smoking

Sitting is the New Smoking

One of the largest pieces of research to date—over 800,000 subjects (the study was carried out by researchers from Loughborough University and University of Leicester in the UK, peer-reviewed in the medical journal Diabetologia), found that compared with those who sat the least, people who sat the longest had a:

0
%
Increase risk in diabetes
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%
Increase in cardiovascular events
0
%
Increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
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%
Increase in death from any cause.

Additionally the research suggests that remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do.

That is bad news for those of us who have to sit to make a living.

Today, the ability to make a living for many of us is based on what we can get done on the computer and/or on the phone, not to mention commuting time. But being desk-bound 8 or more hours a day does not have to mean increased risk of heart diseases, diabetes and premature death.

New research!

The University of Utah provides and easy and effective solution: every hour, walk for 2 minutes. The study of 3,200 people showed that doing so each hour helped to negate the effects of prolonged sitting up to 33%. Researchers commented that these spurts of light activity helped to offset the negative effects of sitting better than just standing, so get up and walk a little bit each hour.

Keep Track of Time!

Most phones are capable of giving you a little prod every hour if you program it to do so. Use the Timer on the Clock App. Set it to 1 hour. Choose a ringtone (or use the default). In an hour the phone will give you the sound that an hour is up. Walk for 2 minutes to the file cabinet, coffee station, or deliver a colleague a message rather than sending an email.

Track your Activity!

To get a good picture of how much you really move during the day, consider getting either a pedometer app for your phone (if you carry your phone all day), or investing in a wearable Activity Tracker. The market has exploded with models and makes; some track sleep, all track steps. Bottom Line: try and build up to 10,000 steps on most days.

want to be healthy

Want to be healthy? Get your Z’s

If you work long hours or take a Red Eye to save precious work time, you probably look forward to catching up on your sleep over the weekend.

Research increasingly re-confirms that sleep, once lost, is very hard, if not impossible to make up for.

In a recent Penn State study, 30 healthy men and women aged 18 to 34 spent 13 nights in a sleep lab. After 4 nights of a full eight hours, they spent the next 6 nights sleeping only 6 hours. The last 3 nights were 10-hour sleep nights.

The participant’s brain function dropped after the nights of sleep deprivation and did not return to normal until after the third day of 10 hours of sleep, even though they said they felt refreshed after the first night of extra sleep. If you are counting on weekends to catch up on sleep, you are fooling yourself; you are just getting started!

Next time you have the choice to travel early to that meeting or take a Red-Eye, go early and get your sleep. Negative effects of sleep deprivation include decreased problem solving skills, innovative thinking, and alertness. Additionally subjects exhibited inappropriate responses, difficulty controlling their temper, and even showed un-ethical behavior that they normally would not have exhibited. Taking a Red-Eye can easily defeat the trip’s purpose.

Additionally, studies increasingly link chronic sleep deprivation with weight gain as well as an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Need more reasons? A recent study in Sweden found that subjects who did not get a full night’s sleep were consistently perceived as less attractive as when they had slept soundly through the night.

To look your best, feel your best, and perform your best, get your sleep.

Gratitude: A Path to Happiness

What is the one quality you wish you had in more abundance? Do you strive to be attractive? Successful? Talented? Famous? Influential? Wealthy? Popular? And no matter what, we want HAPPINESS.

Right? But things and qualities that we achieve (for example wealth or fame) don’t make us happy, at least not for long. Soon after we achieve the goal, get the thing, we want more. It’s never enough. It is a seductive viscous circle: we feel happy…fleetingly…then the next thing comes along. And we want it. Don’t believe it? Take a look at entire multi-billion dollar business: marketing. In 2015 advertisers will spend nearly $600 BILLION dollars worldwide*; dollars spent to make us want stuff; which by the way, undermines happiness, even if you have the means to buy those enticing things.

The single most desirable quality that is the basis for both goodness and happiness is gratitude. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; ones readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness. Cicero, the Roman philosopher declared that gratitude was the mother of all virtues: it was the indispensible quality that allowed other virtues to be.

Do we need science to confirm the benefits of gratitude? Apparently so, since recently the scientific community has been putting gratitude to the test. The University of California at Berkeley recently announced a $3.1 million research study on the power of gratitude, on the heels of many other recent studies. The USC Brain and Creativity Institute which partners with the USC Shoah Foundation have done extensive studies. Lead researcher Glenn R Fox, PhD found that “when the brain feel gratitude, it activates areas responsible for feelings of reward, moral cognition, subjective value judgments, fairness, economic decision-making and self-reference.”

The collective findings? The practice of gratitude is a mindful practice that forces us to be in the present moment. It improves psychological, emotional, and physical well-being. Practicing gratitude strengthens relationships and makes people have a consciousness of what is going on around them, which in turn increases genuine empathy, kindness, caring, and by being mindful, reduces the tendency to take things for granted.

Practicing gratitude is just that: a practice. It is a habit and as such, when practiced with consistency, becomes a virtue. Once the habit of gratitude is established, the other virtues of happiness and goodness become firmly rooted. The purest virtues of love, kindness, goodness, joy spring from the heart, rather than the temporary happiness that a thing, a situation, or a person can provide.

7 ways to practice gratitude at home

  • Practice gratitude habits. For children to learn to be grateful, they need to see the habit of gratitude practiced by the adults around them.
  • Encourage imagination. Go deeper into the moment. Try new paths, places, foods. This kind of safe adventurism brings wonder and newness to the day.
  • Look at your friends, your children, your co-workers with new eyes. Children change every day; appreciate the wonder of growth and change. Friends and co-workers have events in their lives that impact their day. Walking in someone else’s shoes increases gratitude.
  • Find things to be grateful for. Sometimes things just aren’t all that awesome…and finding a way to flip it so that you can find the good, the thing to be grateful for, can be hard. But it can change everything.
  • You are not going to learn anything by talking about what you already know. Pay attention to those around you. Listen to children. What are the feelings that they are expressing to you: are they happy, sad, frightened, lonely, excited?
  • Express how people make you feel in the moment. Tell children how they make you feel now, rather than what you see that they can achieve in the future; this helps them learn gratitude and mindfulness.
  • To get in the habit of practicing gratitude, try a daily journal. Writing down what we are grateful for forces us to stop, to think, and sometimes to think hard if it means changing perspective.

On the selfish side, here are some things that practicing gratitude can do for you.

  • It makes you proactive. People who are grateful tend to be more proactive about their health, including exercise: they are more consistent.
  • Which not only makes you more aware of your health, but when you are happier, you have a better immune system.
  • You will sleep better. Those who practice gratitude fall asleep faster, and sleep longer.
  • Practicing gratitude helps diminish stress and aggression.
  • Practicing gratitude also helps you deal with traumatic events, emotions become steadier.
  • Practicing gratitude improves relationships. It builds friendships and makes you a better partner. Additionally, it improves social relationships in the community.
  • Gratitude boosts self-esteem. It reduces social comparisons and allows people to appreciate the achievements of others as well as themselves.
  • Practicing gratitude on the job will make you a better manager, improves networking, aids in achieving goals and productivity. It improves your personality overall, which is critical in business and the corporate world.
  • The practice of gratitude makes you smarter. In one study on high school kids, the authors found that “gratitude, controlling for materialism, uniquely predicts all outcomes considered: higher grade point average, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption, as well as lower envy and depression.”
  • Gratitude is the basis for Goodness and Happiness, making you a better person and a happier person.
  • Gratitude can lengthen your life. Those who are optimistic and happy tend to live longer than those who are not.