“Smoking is injurious to health, smoking causes cancer” We see this tagline in all the cigars that we purchase, the advertisement pops up just before any movie starts and the government has banners and hoardings all over the cities that try to enlighten people about the ill effects of smoking. Still, the number of smokers is increasing and the habit has also got the attention of teenagers and youth who are falling a prey to it. E-cigars have also gained a reputation on their own coming in as cigar replacements for millions of people around the world.
Replacements for Cigars or Reassignments of Health Issues?
E-cigarettes also called as e-cigars, vaporizers or vape pens emit vaporized nicotine for the individual to inhale the only difference being that the user has the sensation of inhaling tobacco smoke without the smoke. Teenagers in the U.S. predominantly use e-cigarettes whose use increased to 900% a couple of years back. There are quite a lot of them who don’t use it as a replacement for smoking but start this habit for its own pleasures. Now, different research studies show that vaping does have hazardous side effects on health. Read more about e-cigarettes and also learn about effective ways in which you can stop smoking by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
A study by researchers at the Boston University found that the additives used in e-cigars have the potential to damage the cells lining blood vessels and reduce the production of nitric oxide thereby increasing the risk of inflammation and heart disease. The study used nine different flavoring chemicals and exposed the endothelial cells for 90 minutes to study the effects. When cells lining the blood vessels were exposed to these flavoring additives chemicals that are generally released to promote blood flow decreased and also raised inflammation levels. The endothelial cells of smokers and those using flavored e-cigars showed similar levels of toxicity. But cell death happened only at extremely high concentrations and it normally doesn’t occur with normal usage. It is important to note here that endothelial cells play an integral role in heart and cardiovascular health.
Another study too published in a reputed journal found that exposing endothelial cells to six different flavors of e-liquid with different levels of nicotine created damage to cell functioning. The different flavors used were fruit, tobacco, sweet tobacco with caramel and vanilla, sweet butterscotch, cinnamon and menthol and these flavors increased the levels of molecules that can cause DNA damage and cell death. The researchers found that cinnamon and menthol flavors were more harmful comparatively as they obstructed the cell’s ability to form new blood vessels whereas exposure to cinnamon, caramel and vanilla flavors increased inflammation chances. Another important discovery made by the researchers in this study was that the levels of nicotine found in the blood of e-cigarette and conventional cigar users were the same after 10 minutes of smoking.
Traditional cigarette or e-cigarette, both come with their own baggage of disruption to our health. At least while smoking a normal cigarette you have a count on the number of cigars you have smoked. But with e-cigarettes you are at a danger of exposing your body to extremely high nicotine levels. The chemicals released from e-cigarettes affect our vascular health and disrupt our well-being. Stop any kind of smoking-active, passive or active-passive and start living a better quality of life.
It’s a religious ritual to overload your tummy with the big tub of popcorn-caramel, cheese, butter, salt or many more varieties while watching your favorite movie in the big screen. The sum total of the expenses on a tub of popcorn is quite more than what we assume-it’s time spent, money spent, calories earned and weight earned. Friday nights at home too are never complete without a bowl of our yummy popcorn and our favorite TV series or movie. We are proud to hold them in our hands as popcorns are whole grains, full of antioxidants and rich in nutrients-at least, that’s what we love to assume. Contrarily, a big tub of the tasty popcorn that is purchased at the movie is worth almost 50% of our daily calorie needs amounting to more than 1000 calories, plus or minus a few depending on the variety that we choose. So, are popcorn any good or are they coated with honey with all the wickedness inside?
What’s There in Popcorn’s Kitty?
A healthy snack is one that’s high in nutrient, low in calories, total fats, sugar and sodium. Some snacks like nuts also belong to the ‘healthy’ category for their super-high nutrients despite their high calorific value. Whereas a not-so-healthy-snack is one that’s low in nutritional value but high in calories, total fats, sodium and sugar.
Easy ones to point out include fruits and veggies that aren’t in everyone’s list as a snack! Doughnuts, fries and crisps are definitely high in our list but they are also high in calories. An exception to all this is popcorn whose method of preparation can make or break the health of this snack. Popcorn sure has some perks-it’s a whole grain which makes it a whole lot better as these are rich in antioxidants and fiber that are helpful in protecting the body against diseases such as cancer. They are an excellent source of polyphenols, a plant oxidant that improves cell health. Some even quote popcorns to be better sources of polyphenols than fruits and vegetables as popcorns contain only 4% water compared to produce which is made of 90% water. A new study even shows that popcorns make an even better snack when prepared in the right way as they contain up to 300 mg of polyphenols compared to fruits that contain only 160 mg of them (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/popcorn-may-actually-be-good-for-you-if-you-dont-slather-it-in-butter/255596/). And, do you know which part of the popcorn has the maximum concentration of polyphenols? It’s the hull that’s all determined to get stuck in between your teeth and cause unease. Although a serving of these air-popped kernels contains twice the amount of polyphenols compared to a serving of any fruit they can never be replacements for fruits and veggies as these produce contain a number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are absent in popcorn.
Offsetting Nutritive Value with Your Preparation Method
While a serving of air-popped corn kernels contain only 100 calories the ones served at the theatre contain as much as 1000 calories and more than 2000 mg of sodium. Whoa! Those are highly contradictory figures that don’t match each other any time sooner! Some of them are prepared only using oil which is far better when compared to the cheesy popcorns or the sweeter ones coated in sugar and caramel sauce.
Microwaved popcorns have been used judiciously by many for making tasty treats for their loved ones but they do contribute their own set of problems. Research previously linked the coatings used in microwaved popcorn to health issues such as lung diseases-but this was seen only in those working in popcorn manufacturing factories and effects on those who consume it remain hazy. There have also been reports showing that the chemicals used to coat the popcorn bag are carcinogenic in nature. Though we don’t have crystal-clear evidences there does exist the need to use other better cooking options to stay safe.
Cooking corn kernels on the stove is great but only when these kernels don’t undergo further processing in the form of oil coatings that burn while heating and cause oxidative damage to cells. Any food prepared with burned oil is not a good option to consider and popcorns are no exception. The best is to cook them on your stovetop directly without coating them in oil or use electric air poppers that are inexpensive, cook completely and are healthy.
So, give or take a few positives and negatives we can surely say that popcorns are a good snack when they are prepared in the right way and are also the worse snacks when prepared wrongly.
Is popcorn really a healthy alternative to crisps and other snacks? https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/sep/29/is-popcorn-really-a-healthy-alternative-to-crisps-and-other-snacks
Healthiest way to make popcorn: https://time.com/5218647/healthiest-way-to-make-popcorn/
Even today when I ask many of my clients about their meal routines its surprising as well as saddening to know that many of them don’t go by a healthy breakfast routine and as a matter of fact, most of them skip it altogether. Despite several articles available on the importance of breakfast, RDN’s and physicians vouching for its benefits and our parents begging, screaming or cajoling us to eat breakfast all that we do is to skip it.
‘Don’t believe until you see it with your eyes’ is a good advice for quite many things but trying to follow the same in terms of breakfast too doesn’t make sense. We are all clever enough to decode life’s clues and act accordingly. Realizing the importance of breakfast only after it spoils your health is not going to help you much. While the statement might sound redundant its underlying essence remains the same-Breakfast indeed is the most important meal of the day!
Breakfast Helps to Control Blood Sugar Levels
Let’s get this straight-skipping your breakfast is going to land you in immense trouble with regards to your health. The latest studies show that skipping breakfast increases risk of type 2 diabetes. Until now, we know that diabetic patients should never skip their breakfast as it can affect their glucose levels badly, but this news is the other way around. A review recently published shows that skipping breakfast just once a week may raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 6% and missing it for almost 4-5 days in a week increases the risk up to 55%. On the whole, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 32% for those who missed breakfast compared to those who ate it diligently.
We know that obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and normally, obese people tend to skip breakfast as they are concerned about their weight (but that’s not the right way to approach weight loss). When researchers probed into this, they found results indicating an increased risk of type 2 diabetes irrespective of the body mass index of the individual. This discovery is extremely useful as most people believe that it’s the obese/overweight individuals who always skip breakfast.
Yet another study that tracked almost 3,000 individuals aged between 18 and 30 for 10 years showed that eating a daily breakfast decreased the risk of obesity and diabetes by 35%-50% compared to skipping the morning meal. This clearly shows that if you want to lose weight or be healthy skipping your meal and starving is not the right way to start working on your goal. Eating your breakfast helps in eating fewer calories, less saturated fat and cholesterol and have a more-healthier body than skipping your meal and suffering from its aftermaths. Yet another study complements this result where it shows that people who usually skipped breakfast when they started eating it lost more weight than those who ate the same number of calories in only two meals.
What We Eat Matters Too!
Eating breakfast is important but what you eat can determine the effectiveness of the result. When one study tried to determine the effectiveness between eating a high-protein diet and a high-carb diet it found that a high-protein diet improved satiety (feeling of satisfaction) as it decreased the release of hunger hormones. Eating the right portion and choosing foods that are high in protein and fiber helps you stay energetic and full until lunch. This even prevents you from munching on some oily snack in between. For more ideas and recipes on a healthy breakfast meal please visit the website www.firsteatright.com which contains intricate details of the key nutritious elements that must be part of a morning meal.
Other than diabetes skipping on your breakfast leads to other unhealthy lifestyle practices such as elevated risk of smoking and drinking, decreased interest in exercising and increase in total calories consumed. On the other hand, eating a healthy breakfast lowers the risk of heart disease, blood vessel disease and stroke, and helps the person with better control over his/her weight.
Ladies, don’t go for a competition with your man for weight loss as you are sure to be disappointed! It’s a bitter truth that men have an advantageous edge when it comes to weight loss as they lose weight faster. Its common to see women survive on salads and smoothies but what I’m saying now can be even more depressing given the fact that even studies support it. Yes women, strengthen your hearts and prepare your minds for what you read below might not seem fair but, in the end,, equality triumphs above the rest.
Low-Calorie Diets have a Low Impact on Women’s Weight
Ladies sweat and bet to lose a few kilograms, but the man cuts back on the junk, does a few exercise reps and watches the weighing scales support his efforts in a better way. In a study of more than 2,000 pre-diabetes participants who followed a low-calorie diet for 8 weeks men lost significantly more body weight than women and witnessed greater reductions in the metabolic syndrome sore, diabetes, fat mass and heart rate. Whereas, women were at an advantage when it came to larger reductions in HDL cholesterol, hip circumference, lean body mass and pulse pressure compared to men. The result remained the same despite adjusting for differences in weight loss. But, the 8-week low-calorie diet program resulted in the initial 10% weight loss needed to achieve major metabolic improvements in the first phase of a diabetes prevention program.
The Speed Test
Men have more lean muscle tissue which has the ability to burn more calories than body fat. So, when both men and women cut down calories by following a low-calorie diet or likewise men reap greater benefits and lose weight quickly. But, if you compare the weight loss and maintenance of the lost weight on a long-term basis, the results are almost the same for both genders. This shows that beyond looking into who loses weight faster more important is to ensure that both men and women are going about weight loss in the right direction.
A classic example is that when sedentary men and women start working out and following a diet, men tend to lose more body fat compared to women. A study in England put both men and women on different weight loss programs and at the end of two months noticed that men had lost twice as much weight as women and thrice as much body fat. But, at the end of six months the weight loss statistics remained balanced and equal between the two genders.
Its also to be noticed that women have an extra 6-11% body fat than men which has been reasoned out as a biological trait which evolved to help women during pregnancy. So, despite consuming fewer calories or eating low-calorie foods, women maintain more average body fat than men. This 11% doesn’t make her fatter and she can be perfectly fit with her 11% added body fat. Another point is that men start losing weight in the hardest part of the body-belly and hence, their weight loss is explicitly visible whereas fat stores in a woman are spread around her body and tend to take a longer time. A simple 30 minutes exercise session every day helps a man lose fat around the abdomen even if he doesn’t lose weight. Women can thank themselves here as they tend to put on more weight around the thighs and back compared to abdominal obesity which is a great risk factor for diseases.
For a list of low-calorie foods that can help you feel full as well as prevent calorie addition to your diet please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. Ultimately, losing weight is a hard task for both men and women. The practical truth is that anyone can lose weight irrespective of their gender. It all boils down to your level of interest, dedication and participation.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.