I’ll Have Mine With Out The Chemicals Please!

Organic foods are becoming more common in our supermarkets and fruit stores. It is a growing industry in Australia with the consumer demand increasing by 20-30% each year. Organic foods refer to the way fruit, vegetables, animals, eggs, honey, grains and dairy foods are grown, processed and prepared. This means organic crops must be grown in a nutrient rich soil, with no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides or GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Organic livestock (animals) must be allowed to roam free outdoors, be fed organic food, not given any antibiotics or growth hormones and treated humanely.

People are starting to consume these foods, but let’s look at the reasons why you should buy organic foods. Some of the main reasons to eat organic fruits, vegetables and meats, are that they have a higher level of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they are grown with no harmful pesticides or fertilisers, they are free of artificial additives, they support the local farmers, have a lower impact on the environment , are healthier and taste better, of course.

One of the downfalls you may notice about organic foods is the cost. They can be expensive mainly due to being labour-intensive to produce, and not using any pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals and the yield is often smaller. Aside from this there are more positive reasons to consume foods which are more natural and better for the environment with farmers conserving soil and water.

For a food product to be termed and sold as ‘organic’ farmers need to follow strict principles for 3 years before they are awarded certification. In Australia however the industry is not regulated, so to ensure you are buying a truly organic product, make sure your foods are from a certified organic grower.

Overall, there is no conclusive research into the benefits of consuming organic foods but anything that is grown as naturally as possible without chemicals can’t be doing you any harm.

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The Hippy Hippy Steak

Soy beans are part of the legume family and are not just for vegetarians. They have an array of health benefits for all, including preventing heart disease, osteoporosis, some cancers, menopausal health, and weight issues.

Soy beans are high in plant-based proteins which contain all the same essential amino acids as those found in animal meat products. They are also high in fibre, protein, phytoestrogens and omega-3 fatty acids, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and lactose-free. They are also high in many vitamins (B6 & 12) and minerals (folate, magnesium, calcium, and potassium) – a complete food with many health benefits.

There have been many studies done in reference to soy products and their benefits on heart disease. It is believed that consumption of these products can lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, and improve artery walls and elasticity. Soy products also have an effect on helping to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms. They can assist in bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone density, and more importantly can slow down and prevent the progression of some breast and ovarian cancers.

The best sources of soy products, firstly, are soy beans, tofu, soy beverages (milk), tempeh, soy yoghurt, soy sauce, and soy bread. Many of these foods are commonly found in supermarkets now days and can be substituted for dairy and meat products in your everyday diet.

It is important to maintain a well-balanced diet, which can include some soy products (in place of animal protein products), which can help maintain a healthy body. Try something new next time you’re out, and start to incorporate some soy into your diet.

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Health Benefits of Tea

Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world, second after water and there are many documented health benefits of drinking the many available varieties of tea. There are many types of tea which can be consumed today including, black, white, green, red, oolong, peppermint and herbal teas. These studies have found that some teas may help with cancer (through high levels of antioxidants), heart disease, diabetes, assist in weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, lower stress hormone levels, help fight cavities and reduce plaque, keep your hydration levels up, aid in digestion, make you more alert and aware and can have antimicrobial qualities. Let’s explore the different varieties and their many health benefits.

Black tea, the most popular in the western world is either consumed with or without milk and sugar. Black tea is made with fermented tea leaves and has the highest caffeine content and high in polyphenols and flavonoids.

Green tea is very popular in the western world and increasing in popularity in the western world. It is made with steamed tea leaves, and it is thought that the antioxidants in green tea may inhibit with bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers. Its other benefits are to improve cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of strokes and neurological diseases, detoxify your body, help stimulate the metabolism and lose weight.

White tea is similar to green tea, as it is unfermented and has a high antioxidant value. It therefore has similar properties as green tea, like helping with some cancers, heart disease, anti-aging and boosting your immune system. It is rarer and more expensive than the above 2 varieties.

Herbal teas are usually made from herbs, fruits, seeds or plant roots and generally have a lower concentration of antioxidants when compared to green, white, and black teas. There are many varieties of herbal teas which all have varying health benefits. Some of the main ones include Echinacea tea which is great for oral issues and cold and flu symptoms. Chamomile tea is best for stress relief and relaxation, also used to help alleviate digestive problems and inflammation. Ginger tea is excellent for circulation, stomach aches and nausea (suitable for pregnant women). Peppermint tea is usually recommended for nausea and vomiting, IBS, stress relief and digestion problems. Red tea (or rooibos) is derived from a South African herb and is high in antioxidant properties.

Overall, there are many benefits to this underrated drink. So next time you go to have a warm cup of tea, think about the wonderful things you are doing to your body and how many amazing benefits it offers. 

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Carbohydrates: The Low Down on Loading Up

Carbohydrate loading can be a confusing term and is often misinterpreted in the sporting world. It is defined as a change in your training and nutrition that allows you to maximise your muscle glycogen stores prior to an endurance event, to perform better. Many people think that if they are involved in a sports team or a sporting event they need to “Carbo load” the night before. This is only necessary for people who are planning to compete in endurance events (longer than 90 minutes).

Any individual who will be exercising continuously for over 90 minutes at a constant pace will benefit from carbohydrate loading. People involved in sports like marathon running, cycling, long distance triathlons, cross country skiing, endurance swimming and hiking, will see the value of this dieting technique.

It has been proven through many studies that increasing your muscle glycogen levels, through a high carbohydrate diet, will delay the onset of muscle fatigue by 20% and improve your exercise performance by 2-3%.

The way to carbohydrate load is to change your training and eating during the lead-up to the event. This technique was originally developed in the 1960’s and involved a depletion phase and a loading phase. The depletion phase is where you would exercise to fatigue for 1-4 days and follow a low carbohydrate diet. Then for the loading phase you would taper off your exercise or rest for 1-4 days, prior to the event, while following a diet high in carbohydrates.

The best way to increase your carbohydrate intake is to include foods that are considered high GI, like sugars, cordials, soft drinks, sports drinks, jams, honey, jellies, canned fruits and lollies. It is also important to remember to reduce your protein intake and fibre intake during this phase. Another point to remember (and not to be concerned about), is that during this carbohydrate loading phase you may increase your body weight by a few kilos, through increased food intake and water consumption. This will naturally decrease after you finish the event and return to your normal nutritional ways.

Overall, if you feel that you will benefit from carbohydrate loading before an endurance event, it is important to speak with a professional about what is involved, to prepare yourself. Ensure that you do not make these changes too close to the event, to guarantee your body will respond well to this nutritional training.

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Nutritious Snacks

Snack AttackMany people choose to snack between meals, others not so much. Each individual is different in what their body needs, but most importantly, if snacking throughout the day, you need to choose healthy and nutritious snacks. Snacking between meals is extremely important for people who are diabetic, people who want to lose weight, young children and active people.

There are many positives to consuming small amounts of food throughout the day, including managing hunger pains, maintaining blood sugar levels, refuelling your body, preventing overeating at main meals, and obtaining more nutrients. Planning and choosing healthy snacks is important, because they can add fibre and essential nutrients to your diet, and help you avoid unwanted calories.

The best snacks are ones that are healthy, nutrient-dense food. There are many options for healthy snacks for both adults and children, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, high-fibre breakfast cereals, plain popcorn, canned fruit in natural juices, boiled eggs, low fat muesli bars, baked beans, low fat dips (like tzatziki), cup-a-soups, low fat dairy-based snacks (milk, cheese, yoghurt, smoothies, custards), wholemeal bread/rolls, rice crackers and natural nuts, just to name a few. If you are unprepared and need to choose processed foods for snacks, aim for low-fat, low-sugar options and low-calorie options.

There are many ways to include healthy snacking options into your everyday diet; just make sure you plan ahead, always have healthy, appropriate snacks on hand and don’t feel you always have to eat, just because its morning tea time. This will help you to lose weight, feel energised and enhance your diet.

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Breakfast…The Best Meal Of The Day & Why You Should Eat It

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, and many studies have tried to define why this is important, and the benefits it can have for your wellbeing and weight loss.

A wholesome and nutritious breakfast, containing good carbohydrates, low fat proteins and fruits, will ensure you give your body the best possible start to the day. Some examples include natural muesli with Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit, poached eggs on sourdough bread and mushrooms and grilled tomatoes, porridge with skim milk and poached fruits and almonds.

Many studies say that eating breakfast in the morning, preferably before 8am, will allow your body to harness the energy provided to concentrate at school or work throughout the morning until your next major meal at lunch. These studies also say that children or adults who don’t eat a nutritious breakfast find it hard to concentrate, lack energy and will most commonly crave sugar later in the morning, causing them to reach for that morning tea muffin or biscuit or donut.

Another benefit of eating a regular breakfast is refuelling your body and giving it the energy to function. This avoids poor food choices at morning tea and lunch as you are starving by then and your body will eat anything at that point.

Studies have also shown that people who skip breakfast regularly tend to be overweight in comparison to those people who do not. It is thought that the reason behind this is that the body has gone more than 18hours without food, and these people will then tend to overeat at lunchtime and dinnertime, causing the body to then store all of this energy.

There are many great reasons to make the time and have breakfast every morning, if not to control your weight and kick start your metabolism, then to ensure you are getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients throughout the day. There are many great ideas for what you can eat for breakfast: the possibilities are endless.

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