We have heard ample downsides of ultraprocessed foods such as pizzas, burgers and French fries yet continue to splurge on them mindlessly as it has almost become an addiction to us. We can’t stay without potato chips or colas during parties or celebrate without pizzas at offices for successful project deliveries. Any foods that’s been altered from its natural state mechanically or chemically is termed to be ‘processed’. Ultraprocessed foods are those that include ingredients such as added sugars, fats and preservatives to improve shelf life, flavor and color of the foods. Foods can also be slightly processed, moderately or highly processed and for the list of foods that belong to the different categories please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. Through the years we have had plenty of research clearly showing an association between ultraprocessed foods and health problems such as cancer, obesity and risk of death. The downside here is that many of them derived results from the answers given by people in the form of questionnaires and couldn’t establish any direct relationship. This sparkled a totally different idea to a group of researchers who wanted firsthand information on the effects of ultraprocessed foods.
The Battle between Unprocessed & Ultraprocessed Foods
A group of researchers took the pain of preparing, serving and tracking every single meal and every single ingredient that was consumed by their volunteers-a group of 20 people constituting of 10 men and 10 women who were randomly assigned to either of the two menus that constituted of ultraprocessed or unprocessed foods for a period of one month. Each of the volunteers were assigned to each of the two food groups for two weeks and then switched. Each of the meals constituted of 4000 calories comprising of three full meals and snacks in between. All the participants were requested to eat as much as they wanted through the day. The researchers ensured that both the diets were equal on everything right from nutrition composition to the average number of calories per gram of food. Ultraprocessed foods contributed to 80% of calories in the ultraprocessed diet but did not have any role to play in the unprocessed version. Easy to tell, nevertheless it was a time-consuming job for the researchers to match the menus keeping all the macronutrients within desired ranges.
The research team were extremely careful about their study in the sense that, they even ensured that all the participants wore loose-fitting clothes to keep their weight loss/gain under wraps. As the days of the study proceeded researchers found that those put on a ultraprocessed diet started eating 500 additional calories daily leading to weight gain and fat increment in many people over the first two-week period, almost 1 kilogram during this period. Contrarily, those eating unprocessed foods lost 1 kilogram and witnessed a potential increase in the gut hormone peptide YY that suppresses hunger and also reduces the secretion of hunger hormone, ghrelin. Participants did not consciously eat more ultraprocessed foods as they reported that both the meals tasted equally delicious and yummy. The only difference was that the ultraprocessed foods triggered a subtle but subconscious shift in behavior.
Researchers’ only concern was that something in the ultraprocessed foods were making participants eat more but that ‘something’ remains untraceable until now. Individuals almost ate 17 more calories every minute owing to the soft texture of the ultraprocessed foods compared to unprocessed ones that mostly comprise of veggies, whole grains and fruits. Enriched with sugars and fats ultraprocessed foods trigger the brain’s pleasure system forcing us into a habit almost that continues over our lifetime. Maybe its time now to get rid of these pleasure pangs and enter into the real world where consuming ultraprocessed foods increased consumption rates and weight gain.
Get out of a tough mental state of unhappiness, a fierce negative state of mind or bury your ebbing emotional trauma with some vigorous activity sessions. We have leaned upon physical activity many a times previously to overcome our emotional disturbances. Physical activity has always been a cure for depression and anxiety. It has saved us many a time from succumbing into mental health conditions. Mental health conditions can take away our quality of life and this is not exaggeration. If you are interested in seeing the inside facts please visit www.firsteatright.com. Staying strong without losing over negativity is great but what about the positive things such as happiness and satisfaction. Can exercising promote positive thoughts, foster positive mental health and bring about joy too?
The Very Act of Exercise Adds Joy to Life
A group of researchers were just curious to know whether exercise promoted a positive state of mind just like how it reduces a negative state of mind. They also got into the details of the different attributes of physical activity that were associated with happiness and also focused on the groups of population that would benefit the most of it.
The review focused on 23 different studies relating happiness and physical activity. While 15 observational studies showed a direct or indirect association between happiness and exercise the other 8 studies did not show any decisive results. The studies were on multitudinous age groups that included kids, adolescents, seniors, adults and cancer survivors too from several countries. The only catch was that happiness levels remained the same regardless of the exercise duration-150 minutes or 250 minutes of exercising made the person feel the same degree of happiness. Results showed that compared to inactivity any degree of activity garnered happiness with only the percentage varying across. Insufficiently active, sufficiently active or very active people were 20%, 29% and 52% happier than inactive people. Another study showed that while a normal weight person who performed exercise weekly once had 1.4 times the odds of being happy, the odds were a tad higher-1.5 times when it was in the case of an overweight person. Yet another study showed that adolescents who were physically active at least twice a week were happier than those whose activity was restricted to once a week. We have another study result showing that college goers who were active had 1.3 times the odds of being happy than peers who did not participate.
Of the 23 studies, there were three of them that focused on special populations such as cancer survivors, cerebral palsy-affected children and drug abusers whose exercise routines increased happiness level to a certain extent. Intervention studies included physical activity in the form of aerobic exercises, mixed activity classes and balancing exercises and the results were mixed here-4 studies showed a positive correlation with happiness while 3 studies did not.
Exercise to Stay Happy
All these studies clearly indicate one point-happiness and exercise are positively correlated. Partying, watching a movie, getting an A grade, salary hike or a vacation are absolute reasons to celebrate. Also, working out in times of distress, anger or sadness diminishes these feelings and brings in serenity. But when you exercise just for the sake of exercising it gives you a feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction and contentment. These attributes are priceless. Why don’t you drop in small drops of happiness into your life by exercising and help it become a huge ocean?
Walking requires no preparation as we all walk daily. But running, unlike walking, is an activity of the past in most our cases. Gone are our running days when we used to race with our friends to reach the school gate first, had running competitions between teams during sports day or even ran to catch up with our dad’s jogging. But now, even running behind a bus to catch it has become a complex issue. How many of you have run in the past couple of years after becoming adults? Can you even remember when you stopped running -after school, after your 10th grade in school or after college? I guess all of you are thinking upon an answer quite feverishly but without a definite conclusion!
Maybe its time to refresh your running skills! You can’t start running immediately if you have led a sedentary lifestyle for a long time. Start with walking, proceed to brisk walking and then move on to running once you get a green signal from your doctor that its not going to hurt your knee or cause trouble. You need to prepare yourself to run with well-fitted running shoes, clothing that blends with the season and a familiar route that’s safe and smooth. Apart from these, the individual also needs to take care of his/her eating schedules by eating nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fluids to contribute towards the lost energy needs thereby helping you in the long run.
The running speed, distance, duration, gender, fitness levels and diet strongly affect energy stores. All of the macronutrients-carbohydrates, fats and proteins-are fuel sources for running. Carbs play an integral role without which you would be left with no energy to run. While fruits, veggies and whole grains are great sources of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients it is wiser to choose healthy unsaturated fats (peanuts, olives, etc.), nuts, soy foods and omega-3s (predominantly present in flaxseed oil and fatty fish). Proteins too help in building and repairing muscles, contracting and relaxing muscles, builds ligaments and bones that strongly support these muscles and prevent muscle breakdown during recovery. Chicken, fish, beans, nuts, meat, eggs, turkey, veggies and whole grains are good sources of protein.
Before you start adjusting your diet schedules it is recommended that you calculate the number of calories to support your new running regimen. Don’t introduce too many new foods as this might elevate total calorie value adding more calories than you are burn making your whole running schedule go down the drains. It is advisable to add 100 calories for every 2 kilometers that you run.
Before the Run
Pre-run snacks are essential for maintaining blood sugar levels and glycogen stores. It is advisable to consume these snacks 45-60 minutes before commencing the run. Choose foods that are high in carbs, low in fiber and low in fat to avoid complications such as nausea, gas or cramps by choosing something like plain toast, muffin, cereal, breakfast bar, coconut water, fruit shakes and sports drinks. All these are necessary only if the run would be for more than an hour else water is more than enough to keep the body hydrated.
After the Run
We would have lost quite a lot of water as sweat and once recovery happens we replace 1 ½ times the amount of fluid lost during the run with water. Ensure to eat high-carb snacks within 30 minutes of the activity. Checking your weight before and after the run helps you decide the quantity of fluids needed by your body. Sports drink, chocolate milk, veggies and fruit shakes are few of the post-recovery foods that do a great work on the body.
Before starting to run pay a visit to the grocery store to get all the essentials. Choose those foods that are tasty, nutritious and easy to carry to help you achieve success. You can also get in touch with reputed dietitians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can help you with your pre- and post-run diet menu and plans.
Point out a single teenager who is satisfied with the variety of food/snacks offered at his/her house and I am ready to give a standing ovation to the mom and dad! Indeed, it’s a next-to-impossible task to please our young kids and adolescents with everyday meal preparations. Still, when you are out for a day or even gone for a few hours your teenage son/daughter starts grumbling that there is nothing in the house that’s edible. There is no second opinion that its possible to store in loads of healthy foods but involving your teen too in some of the food preparations puts you on an advantageous edge. By using your teens help now you are helping him/her prepare for the future where your child would be responsible for his/her food choice while at the hostel, out on the lookout for a job or settled elsewhere. They get an insight on differentiating between nutritious and energy-dense meals and also become versatile to plan a well-balanced meal.
To help your teen get habituated to the cooking rituals keep these staples stocked in the kitchen cabinets:
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.