Substitute Balsamic Vinegar with Apple Cider Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a traditional ingredient used in many dishes and is readily available at most restaurants and grocery stores. However, just because balsamic vinegar is more popular doesn’t mean it is the right choice. Apple cider vinegar tastes just as good as balsamic, if not better, and comes with a long list of health benefits unmatched by any other in its class. Most of you are familiar with the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” right? Well, think of apple cider vinegar as an apple in its very best form.

From lowering the chance of developing diabetes to fighting fatigue, apple cider vinegar does it all. Research has shown that people who take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day will show a considerable improvement in their average blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Also, it has been shown that apple cider vinegar can cause a significant decrease in both abdominal fat and waist circumference if consumed on a regular basis. Lower blood pressure is another favorable effect that has been seen with apple cider vinegar which, in combination with lowering cholesterol, can significantly decrease the chance of developing heart disease. Apple cider vinegar also aids in food digestion and regularity, minimizing the chance of gas or bloating after meals. It can also keep you full longer since it acts as a mild appetite suppressant, reducing cravings and the chance of eating poorly between meals. It has also been shown that apple cider vinegar can increase energy levels in times of fatigue so you won’t have to resort to harmful alternatives such as excessive caffeine consumption. Last but not least, apple cider vinegar is full of antioxidants to protect your cells and tissues from free radical damage, keeping your body youthful.

Apple cider vinegar can also be used topically as a treatment for a variety of skin conditions. Applying apple cider vinegar to a pimple can help reduce the redness and inflammation as well as kill the pore clogging bacteria so that it goes away faster. It can also help with fungal infections, including athletes foot and nail fungus. Applying apple cider vinegar to your scalp can help reduce dandruff by killing and discouraging the overgrowth of malassezia furfur, the yeast like fungus that causes it. For a sore throat, gargle with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and it will help you recover faster.

So, the next time you are at the grocery store, instead of going for the balsamic, do yourselves a favor and reach for the apple cider vinegar instead. Remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Thanks for reading, this has been you dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

The Healthy Way to Lose Weight

I’m sure everyone reading this has tried to lose weight at one point in their life. For me, it’s been many points in my life. I feel like I’ve heard about almost every fad diet out there and have been tempted to try most of them. However, when I heard on the news about people needing liver transplants in their late 20s due to taking weight loss supplements filled with random chemicals and exorbitant amounts of caffeine, it really scared me straight. We shouldn’t have to destroy our bodies on the inside for us to look good on the outside. Knowing what to eat, which supplements to take and what exercises are right for you will make it easy for you to lose weight the healthy way.

How many people have tried cutting carbs out of their diet? This is probably one of the worst ways to lose weight. Not only will you feel tired the entire day, because carbohydrates supply the body with energy, but your body will develop a high level of ketones, which can then lead to serious metabolic disorders such as diabetes. If you deprive your body of carbohydrates, your body’s metabolism will eventually be shot, and as soon as you start having carbs again you will gain all the weight back, if not more. People need to distinguish the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. Good carbs, also known as complex carbs, are generally high in fiber and are easier for the body to breakdown and expel. Complex carbs, such as wheat bread and granola, do not cause large spikes in blood sugar as simple carbs, such as white bread and candy, do. Complex carbs also keep you full longer and give you sustained energy to keep you going throughout the day. So, as you can see, not all carbs are bad.

Starving yourself is also a horrible way to lose weight. Your body needs food for energy and to carry out its normal bodily functions. If you don’t eat regularly, not only are you depriving your body of energy, but also of the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Your metabolism will become so slow that whenever you do decide to eat, your body will hang on to that meal very tightly because it knows it won’t be fed again for a while. Instead, eating 5 small meals a day will rev your metabolism up so that you can lose weight more quickly and get the proper nutrition your body needs. Here is a link to some foods that are good for you and will help speed up your metabolism as well: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/9-foods-that-increase-metabolism.html.

Stress is also a major player when it comes to losing weight. When your body is under stress, the cortisol levels in your body are high. High cortisol levels suppress normal thyroid functioning, which is important in regulating your body’s metabolism. Also, high cortisol levels lead to increased fat storage, especially in the abdominal area. This is because when your body is under stress, it feels as though it is under attack (a response that stems from  the body’s natural “fight or flight” mechanism). So, to prepare itself for the effects of the “attack,” your body wants to store excess fat in case it needs it for more energy to “defend” itself down the line. Also, high cortisol levels trigger a hunger response in the brain so you tend to eat more, and I know we have all experienced that in times of stress! Being aware of when you are under stress and countering it with relaxation techniques, such as heavy breathing or meditation, can prevent you from gaining unnecessary weight and destroying your metabolism in the long run.

There are also some natural and safe supplements that you can take to help you lose weight. White kidney bean extract prevents your body from breaking carbs down into simple sugars, so the calories cannot be absorbed. However, this should only be taken before large meals filled with simple carbs because remember, you don’t want to block the absorption of all carbs since they supply the body with energy. Vitamin B12 is also good because it helps speed up your metabolism and give you long lasting energy. Fish oil is another great supplement because it helps lower cholesterol as well as triglycerides, which are the building blocks of fat. L-carnitine is an amino acid that also helps lower triglycerides by actually transporting them into the cells of our body and converting them into energy. Green tea or green coffee extract are both safe and natural sources of caffeine and antioxidants that can help elevate your metabolism without making you feel jittery as other artificial weight loss supplements that are packed with ridiculous amounts of caffeine tend to do. Last but not least, chromium picolinate helps regulate blood sugar by increasing the efficiency of insulin in our bodies, thus preventing the conversion of excess sugar into fat.

Above all, exercise is the most important factor in losing weight. Not only does exercise help you burn fat and boost your metabolism, but it helps keep your cortisol levels low as well. This is because exercising reduces stress by causing the body to release natural endorphins. As cliche as it is to say, eating healthy and exercising is the only way to maintain long term weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is a lifestyle, not a one week starvation diet. For those of you who are thinking, “how am I supposed to resist those donuts I see at the office next to the coffee machine everyday,” well, it takes about 4 to 5 days to get rid of a craving. After resisting those donuts for about a week, I promise you won’t even look at them twice thereafter.Thanks for reading! This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

Sugar Coated Sugar Substitutes

If I gave you a slice of red velvet cake and said it has no sugar and half the calories of a regular slice, but tastes just as good, that’s a pretty hard offer to resist. However, what I didn’t tell you about that slice is it may potentially cause cancer, diabetes, have an unpleasant laxative effect, and even lead to sexual dysfunction along with a list of other complications. Does that sound delicious? I don’t think so. Sugar substitutes may give people more leeway in their diet, but it can potentially cause serious health detriments down the line. Trust me, I know how great it sounds to be able to eat your favorite dessert without worrying about gaining weight because I have the biggest sweet tooth known to man, but the risk is just not worth it.

Most sugar substitutes may be “sugar coated” by advertisers into being the answer to easy weight loss, but they are just harmful chemicals in disguise. Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Aspartic acid can cross the blood brain barrier and destroy neurons, ultimately leading to such neurological problems as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and even dementia. Phenylalanine can cause mood disorders such as depression since it has been shown to lower seratonin levels in the brain. Methanol is oxidized in the body into formaldehyde and formic acid, both of which are considered toxic. Formaldahyde is actually a well known carcinogen, and can cause DNA mutations, which can then lead to cancer.

Sucralose is another popular sugar substitute that has gained its appeal by being advertised as a derivative of sugar, making us think it is all natural. However, what the creators did was add chlorine atoms to the ends of sugar molecules so that they couldn’t link together and accumulate in the body. Instead, there was a small percentage of chlorine left behind (about 15%) after ingesting sucralose. So, in place of having sugar accumulate in the body, the consumer would have chlorine build up instead. Chlorine is a highly reactive atom and can also cause DNA mutagenisis and cancer like aspartame can, so how is sucralose any better?

Stevia is the newest sugar substitute in the US market today. It comes from a plant in South America, where it has been used as a sweetener for centuries. It has also been used in Japan for over 30 years now. Granted, there haven’t been any reports of adverse effects from using Stevia in other countries just yet, but the problem is that it’s still relatively new to us here in America. We tend to take things to the extreme and consume more than the average person in other countries. When using rats as test subjects, toxicologist have shown that taking stevia in large amounts for a long period of time can potentially cause infertility and tumor growth. So, as of now, stevia does seem like the “best” alternative if consumed in moderation, but again, why risk it?

In my opinion, brown sugar is your best bet when it comes to choosing a sweetener. It is unrefined, so it has less calories than refined white sugar. Also, honey is a great sweetener that comes with many health benefits as well including boosting your immune system due to having unique antimicrobial properties. So, the next time you see those pink, yellow and blue packets, think of how detrimental they can be to your health and take the natural route instead. I hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

 

Fiber is Your Friend!

How many people associate fiber with cardboard? How many people think that fiber is something that only their grandparents have because people only need fiber when they’re old? Well, fiber can actually benefit us at any age and doesn’t always necessarily have to taste bad. Fiber can be found in many tasty foods such as fruits, beans, nuts and even popcorn! So, stop thinking about fiber so negatively and learn why fiber is one of the most essential additions you can make to your diet.

Fiber is most commonly known for increasing regularity, but the list of benefits goes way beyond that. Aside from relieving occasional constipation, fiber can also lower blood cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to LDL, which is known as “bad cholesterol,” and carries it out of our bodies through our feces. For people with diabetes, or at risk for diabetes, fiber helps decrease blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar and preventing large spikes in insulin secretion. Fiber also aids in weight loss because it gives our meals bulk, making us full faster and keeping us full for a longer period of time. Also, foods high in fiber tend to have less calories, so there is less potential to gain weight. Fiber has also been linked to lowering blood pressure because it absorbs excess water in the colon. Most importantly, fiber binds to toxins and harmful bacteria that may have entered the body through our food and eliminates them through our feces so that they cannot be reabsorbed into our bloodstream. This also helps decrease inflammation in our bowels, which decreases the chances of developing such illnesses as irritable bowel syndrome.

As mentioned earlier, foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, whole grain bread, nuts, and beans. If none of these foods stimulate your appetite, you could also take fiber supplements. There are fiber caps or even fiber chews out there, such as Fiber Choice, that would deliver the full daily dose of fiber you would need. Women need about 25 grams of fiber a day and men need around 38 grams. Do not confuse fiber with laxatives. Laxatives are often stimulants that can make your body dependent if used for longer than 2 weeks. They also deplete your body of essential electrolytes, which can be very dangerous, especially for your heart.

So, now when you think of fiber, I hope you don’t just think of old people eating prunes or Metamucil. Instead, think of all the benefits fiber can bring and how it can help regardless of what age you happen to be. One last thing, make sure to drink plenty of water with a high fiber diet to get optimal results. Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

Coconut Oil and its Long List of Benefits

From cooking, to massaging, to styling your hair, it seems as though coconut oil does it all. Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits and can be used for aesthetic purposes as well! It has been used by those who live in native, tropical areas for thousands of years now and has been proven to be one of the primary contributors to their great shape and health. Coconut oil consists of naturally occurring, saturated fats that have been shunned by health professionals for years now. However, with all the benefits that have been shown to come along with using coconut oil, we are slowly realizing that not all saturated fats are bad.

Coconut oil mainly consists of a naturally occurring saturated fat called lauric acid. We have constantly been told that saturated fats are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. However, the saturated fat they are referring to is man made by a process known as hydrogenation. This process is used by manufacturers to improve the shelf life of their products even though it is detrimental to our health. However, lauric acid is a rare, naturally occurring saturated fat that does not share the same properties as man made fats. Lauric acid does not clog your arteries, increase cholesterol, cause heart disease, nor contribute to obesity. In fact, it does the complete opposite and more.

Coconut oil can help improve your health in many ways. Lauric acid is metabolized by the body into monolaurin, which is known to have anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. This helps boost your immune system and protect you against such common diseases as herpes, influenza, H. Pylori and even HIV. Lauric acid also helps increase HDL, which is known as “good cholesterol.” HDL helps remove the “bad cholesterol” in the body known as LDL, which then lowers the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Coconut oil is also very useful in reducing weight since it helps support healthy thyroid functioning and digestion. It also helps improve the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids so you get the most out of the food you eat. Coconut oil also helps regulate blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin, thus lowering the chances of developing diabetes. Last, but not least, it is a great source of energy since coconut oil is also made up of medium chain triglycerides, which are quickly and easily metabolized by the liver.

Coconut oil can also benefit you on the outside as well as the inside. Coconut oil consists of essential proteins that help repair damaged hair and improve hair growth. It can be used on the scalp to reduce dryness and itchiness as well as dandruff. It has also been shown to be effective in killing hair lice and their eggs. Coconut oil can also be used on the skin as a moisturizer. It helps treat dry, flaky skin and even improves the skin’s elasticity to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Coconut oil can also be used to help treat various skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin infections. Most importantly, it can help alleviate stress and loosen your muscles when massaged into the skin, which I’m sure all of us need from time to time.

Now that the secret is out, go take advantage of it. Not all saturated fats are created equal! Replace your cooking oil, your moisturizers and your conditioners with coconut oil and you will see and feel the difference soon after. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.

The ABC’s of Protein and Why Your Body Needs It

Protein is one of the body’s main building blocks for not only muscle but bone, hair, skin, tendons, ligaments and other tissues as well. Actually, every cell in the human body contains protein as part of its structure. So, if you were to deprive your body of protein, you would be depriving your cells and tissues of the components they need to grow or even repair themselves when needed. For those of you who are vegetarians, protein can be found in many different forms other than animal meat including powders, meal replacement bars, beans, nuts, avocado, tofu and even dried apricot. However, be careful how much protein you ingest because too much can be toxic.

The recommended daily intake of protein for healthy adults is 0.75 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 45 to 56 g of protein a day for the average man. For people who exercise vigorously, it is essential to have more protein after their workout in order to help restore and repair muscle glycogen, which is a molecule used as a fuel source for energy. Protein can also help you stay full longer than most other types of food, which is beneficial for weight loss. Most meal replacement bars and powders contain a high amount of protein specifically to help the body lose fat and build lean muscle. One of my favorite meal replacement bars is Think Thin. These bars do not contain any sugar but do pack a lot of protein, fiber, and other essential vitamins that will give you energy and keep you full for hours. Plus, they actually taste really good. A protein shake that I recommend is Shakeology. Shakeology has a protein formula unmatched by most other protein shakes and is also relatively low in calories so you will lose unwanted fat and increase lean muscle mass easily and quickly.

Protein may be good for the body, but too much protein is not. A diet in which protein makes up more than 30% of your caloric intake causes a buildup of toxic ketones in the body. Having a high level of ketones can push your kidneys into overdrive in order to flush these ketones out, which can cause you lose a significant amount of water as well. If your body loses too much water, you may be at risk for dehydration, especially for those who exercise a lot. Along with losing an excessive amount of water, you can lose muscle mass and bone calcium in your urine too. Also, dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy since excessive water loss may lower your blood pressure to an abnormally low level, which also puts a strain on your heart. Last but not least, a high level of ketones in the body can cause really bad breath!

So, protein is an essential part of one’s diet, but like almost everything else in this world, too much may be harmful. Stick to the daily recommended intake of protein and you will not only feel better but look better as well. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.