10 [not-so-healthy] “Health” Foods

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So we are surrounded by ‘health’ food every day. “Low-fat” this, “organic” that, it’s really overwhelming. The trouble is, most people are easily fooled by the labels on their food. Not you guys. Here are a list of my most pet-peevy “healthy” foods to avoid — they’re not so healthy after all!

1. Anything with the words ‘low-fat’ or ‘non-fat’ in it!
Foods that have those trigger words are typically heavily processed. This processing takes out the fat and replaces it with chemicals and sugar to maintain taste. Trust me, if choosing between fat and sugar/processing, choose fat! (More on enjoying dairy fat here!) All that craze over fat intake? Was totally wrong.

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2. Energy bars.
Some energy bars are even worse than candy bars for your health! They are packed full of calories from carbs and sugar, and even though some pack in the protein, it usually isn’t enough to keep you full enough to use it as a meal replacement. They end up being 500 calories of a snack, only to be followed up by a 500 calorie meal a few minutes later! Even if a bar has lots of soy protein (which is full of nutrients), the processing the bars have to go through flushes out the beneficial nutrients!

3. Brown Rice Syrup.
When most people hear the word ‘rice’ or ‘brown’ they think it’s going to be healthier than regular syrup. Brown rice syrup has no refined fructose, which is a good thing, however, it is full of glucose. The GI of rice syrup is 98, meaning that it will cause blood sugar to shoot up at a crazy high rate (we call that very ‘insulinemic’). Insulinemic foods are bad (duh!) and you want to avoid them as much as possible. Plus, brown rice syrup has like no nutrients, so it’s really just empty sugar calories.

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4. Gluten-free or Vegan Junk Food.
Trader Joe’s does a fantastic job of making junk food look and sound super healthy. Gluten-free pasta, vegan cookies, etc etc etc. I mean, have you ever tried their gluten-free pizza dough? Drool. It’s delicious. BUT, unhealthy. All these foods are so highly processed that they are striped of their nutrients and end up being just as bad for you as their evil gluten-y counterparts. Just think about all the machines those foods had to go through to be in your grocery aisle. Gross.

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5. Margarine.
My whole family eats margarine and it’s SO frustrating. Butter used to be thought of as unhealthy because of the high amount of saturated fat, but now that the saturated fat in dairy myths have been debunked, it’s time to get back to it. Margarine is not real food. Let me repeat. Margarine. Is. Not. Food. Similarly to gluten-free or vegan junk food. It’s an amalgamation of chemicals that have been thrown together in a factory to taste like butter. Even worse? People avoid butter to avoid heart disease, when in fact, consuming margarine instead showed an INCREASE in heart disease! Crazy, right?

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6. Agave nectar.
A lot of people use agave nectar as a more healthy sweetener option. Wrong. Sugar is considered bad for you because of the fructose content, right? Well, sugar is about 50% fructose. High fructose corn syrup ranges around 50-60% fructose. What’s agave nectar? Up to 90% fructose. 90%!!! So, even though it’s ‘natural,’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.

7. Sports drinks.
Sports drinks are basically just electrolytes and sugar. Electrolytes are salts. There is pretty much no difference between sports drinks and soda for the average person. If you’re in a triathalon or are a professional serious athlete, by all means, reload your electrolytes with a Gatorade! However, the average person — even if you’re a crazy crossfitter or something — does not need to replenish their electrolytes after a workout, and they certainly don’t need to drink liquid sugar for energy. Stick to water, it’s perfectly acceptable to rehydrate you after your run.

8. Store-bought smoothies.
So whole foods has this amazeballs strawberry cleanse smoothie? Great, enjoy. However, it may not be as healthy as it sounds. Premade smoothies are typically made with tons and tons of sugar, purees, and even ice cream! Plus, smoothing and processing them to last on a shelf strips nutrients right off them. Smoothies can be made the healthy way in your blender at home. (My favorite healthy smoothie that’s so good it would fool anyone to thinking it’s unhealthy here. Quick tip to make homemade smoothies easier here.)

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9. Frozen diet meals.
You heard me, I’m-too-tired-to-cook Lean Cuisine lovers. These frozen entrees are PACKED with sodium — seriously, it’s nuts. They might be low in calories and super convenient, but they are pretty much empty of nutrients. Gross. So much gross.

10. Frozen yogurt.
At USC, girls went ape-shit over frozen yogurt. My friends would constantly replace meals with a trip to PinkBerry because they were on a ‘diet’. I cannot even tell oyu how frustrating that is! Frozen yogurt is not much better for you than ice cream. Yes, it is lower in saturated fat. But in regard to sugar, carbs, calories, and processing, they’re pretty close. Plus, didn’t we all learn to prefer the saturated fat over sugar?!

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Anyway, that’s my list! Really, it’s all about keeping it simple. Cook real, whole foods and you will be your absolute healthiest. Do any of you have things to add to it? I had to stop at 10 but could probably go on all day…

 

xo
lisasig
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5 Reasons to Exercise OTHER than a Bikini

exercise

So summer is (unfortunately) winding down….

This sadly means that a lot of people are losing the ‘bikini body’ motivation to get exercising, while at the same time, the weather is about to make being outdoors and active more and more difficult.

I figure it’s about time for a reminder as to why you should be exercising daily — despite not wearing a bikini.

We all know exercise just makes us feel good. If I don’t exercise for a couple of days, I feel sluggish and just ‘bleh,’ as I’m sure you all do too.

I thought I would write out a list of the top 5 reasons to exercise, so that when you’re not feeling that motivation you can look to this list and remember the real reasons why you exercise.

1. Disease prevention. So many chronic diseases originate due to an imbalance of the bacteria in your gut (go figure, right?). New research has just shown that exercise can actually change your gut bacteria, promoting the ‘good’ bacteria over the bad! This means that it has a direct effect on your body’s inflammation and vulnerability to inflammatory chronic diseases (not to mention the wonders it does for your heart strength/health and the several other roles it plays in disease prevention).

2. Happiness. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make people happy. (‘…and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!’) Exercise has been proven to give people more energy throughout the day. This, along with the boost of endorphins, improve well-being and mood!

3. Brain Improvements. So the endorphins released when we exercise not only improve mood, but also improve cognitive function. They clear your mind, making you think more efficiently. So, exercising before a big exam or presentation, or any situation in which being sharp and alert is key, is super beneficial. (I mean, it is part of the HUSTLE requirements!)

4. Sleeeep. I don’t know about you, but I sleep so much better when I exercise that day. You know how exercise gives you more energy? Well, this causes you to burn up your energy during the day being more active and alert. This makes you more sleepy when it actually comes time to go to sleep. (For more sleeping info… 1 // 2)

5. Pain tolerance. Research has recently suggested that exercise improves pain tolerance. This could make it not only a great preventative measure for disease and pain, but a treatment for chronic pain. Have a bad knee? Get headaches? Sore back? Even just cardio a couple times a week can help alleviate this pain, making you more resilient to the negative effects of chronic injuries or pain.

Still think a bikini is the only reason to work out?

xo
lisasig
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Mythbusting: Whole Milk & Weight Loss

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My boyfriend and I have been drinking a lot of whole milk recently. Seriously. A lot. I’m pretty much racking up a glass jug deposit in the double digits over here. But, how much is too much?

So as far as I’m aware, there are two very different myths out there when it comes to milk.

Myth #1: ALWAYS drink non-fat milk, whole milk will make you fat.
Myth #2: Whole milk will help you lose weight.

Confusing, eh? What do you guys think?

The truth? Somewhere in between.

There is science out there to support that drinking whole milk will help you lose weight. Over 12 years, that study found that intake of high-fat dairy products was associated with lower obesity risk in males. (I’m going to give you my thoughts on the most important science about milk below.)

HOWEVER, there are a few other things to consider as to how this works.

1. Drinking fat will help increase satiety, so you will feel more full after drinking full-fat milk than after drinking non-fat. This will keep you from eating more throughout the day.

2. There might be other ingredients in full-fat milk contributing to the health benefits. Whole fat milk has several other potential vitamins and mineral that may get eliminated when removing the fat, or may lose their functioning without fat to digest them with.

3. When drinking non-fat milk and feeling less full, what is the average person going to run toward? Carbs. Sugar. Processed foods. Generally, less healthy options.

4. Many milk and dairy products that are non-fat replace the fat with other ingredients to make it taste better. What are these ingredients? Carbs. Sugar. Processed/refined sugars. All worse for your health and waist line than saturated fat.

5. Saturated fat is not only still fat, it’s the bad kind of fat. Whole milk has saturated fat, which has been consistently linked to cholesterol levels and heart disease, in addition to other chronic diseases. High consumption of saturated fat is no bueno, it’s much healthier to fill up on unsaturated fat, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease.

So, what’s this all mean?

Whole milk will make you feel more full than non-fat milk. Thus, by drinking it, you’ll end up not only wanting less milk, but less food after you drink the milk, leading to less calorie consumption from sugars and carbs throughout the day.

However, the saturated fat in whole milk is not the ‘healthy’ kind of fat, so don’t get too crazy. The same satiety effects come from healthy unsaturated fats without the added cholesterol trouble. These include nuts, fish, avocados, and olive oil. Eating any of these will also keep you full so you’ll eat less calories.

Additionally, the satiety effects of whole milk will only happen if you are eating/drining mindfully. Guzzling down a whole jug of whole milk is not healthier for you than non-fat. Drinking it slowly so you can have a chance to experience the satiety is the only way to get the effects. Similarly, if you aren’t compensating for the calories by not eating as much through the day, you’re also not getting the effects. Eat mindfully and you will notice you aren’t as hungry, so you shouldn’t eat as much.

Where do I stand?

Let me give you some science that really blew my mind. So there’s this really incredible branched chain fatty acids called phytanic acid. It is an agonist (it ‘helps’) a particular enzyme in the liver whose job it is to metabolize fat. Ergo, this phytanic acid helps your body burn fat (a good thing!). The bummer is that this enzyme is really rare, it’s actually only consumed via one food: dairy fat. So, drinking full-fat milk gives your body a ton of phytanic acid to help it metabolize fat!

More science? Well, we all know fiber is good for us/will help regulate weight, right? What does fiber do/why is it good for us? Fiber is pretty much food for the bacteria in our gut. SO, it is fermented in the gut to make short-chain fatty acids, mainly butyric acid, actually. Butyric acid is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and is really good for you in regard to preventing chronic inflammatory diseases, including obesity. So eating fiber creates butyric acid, which is awesome.

So is there any way to skip the fiber and just get some straight up butyric acid? Yep. The only dietary source of butyric acid is…..full-fat dairy. Yep. Thus, dairy fat may be as effectively good for you as fiber is. BAM.

So, I’m a proponent of the full-fat dairy. Go wild, but be careful is you are limiting or should limit your saturated fat intake (cholesterol!).

For more of my milk musings… 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

What kind of milk do you guys prefer?

xo
lisasig
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‘Why Juice?’ with Miss Nutritionista

Hey all! I’m turning over TSOH today to Miss Nutritionista, Mariam! She is a certified health coach and self-proclaimed foodie with a fantastic blog.

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If you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed that I am a major fan of juicing. I have a raw juice almost daily but many times I get asked if it’s just another diet fad!

I’m happy to report that juicing is not just another diet fad.  Juicing is a quick and straight-forward way of consuming a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Just one 16 oz cup gives your body a huge boost of high quality nutrients and helps balance your body’s pH. Juicing has a host of health benefits, some of which I share below.

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Benefit # 1: Digestion Aid

If you struggle with a slow digestion then juicing would be a great benefit to you. When juicing, your body requires very little energy for digestion. You end up using more fresh fruits and vegetables than you could actually ever eat. And all the “dense nutrients –vitamins, minerals and pytonutrients –are jam packed in the juice and able to enter your system rapidly, bypassing any traffic jams or congestion of your digestion system”.

Benefit #2: Liver Detoxifier

The liver is one of the main organs for detoxification. It helps remove toxins and metabolic waste out of your body. Given the toxic load of our modern lifestyle, our poor liver works overtime to cleanse the body. We use and abuse this vital organ with excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, cigarette smoke, breathing smog filled air and exposing our skin and body to toxic products. Doing a fresh juice cleanse once a month or heck even weekly helps give our liver a break and floods it with nutrients it needs to function properly.

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Benefit #3: Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails

Growing up, I had major skin problems from blemishes to straight out cystic acne. Nowadays, I walk around barefaced (only sunscreen) and get complimented on my skin.  My skin and nails began to change when I started eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.  Juicing has given me an efficient way of getting even more fresh produce into my diet.

Fresh juice, especially green juice is full of powerful antioxidants and pytonutrients. These babies boost the health of your skin, hair and nails. Vegetables such as asparagus, collard greens, spinach, and especially kale are rich in riboflavin, an essential nutrient needed to prevent issues like hair loss, cracked lips and many skin problems. Moreover, a lack of vitamin A causes beauty problems such as dry skin, coarse and brittle hair, acne, and even dandruff. Carotenoids, the organic pigments found in most fruits and vegetables acts as a precursor to vitamin A – thus promotes skin smoothness, combats skin problems and strengthens our skin, hair, and nails. So ditch the expensive cosmetics and drink a green juice instead!

Benefit #4: Cardiovascular Health

Not surprisingly, the leading cause of death in the U.S is still cardiovascular disease. Your cardiovascular system is what makes up that gorgeous heart of yours and the hundreds of blood vessels that pump blood to and from your heart. It’s crucial not only to have a healthy heart but also clean arteries that allow your blood to move swiftly through your body.

Juicing provides your body with the nutrients needed to keep your cardiovascular system healthy. For example, antioxidants such as vitamins C and E –prevent the damaging effect of free radical in your body and in particular your artery walls. These antioxidants prevent your blood from clotting, sticking or becoming toxic while at the same time lowering triglyceride levels.  Fresh juice also contains potassium and magnesium, two minerals crucial for proper heart function.

Juicing can be very beneficial to your health. Think of it as your “little helper”for getting fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. However, juicing should not replace actually eating whole fruits and vegetables and should not be used as a meal replacement. With all things in life, balance and moderation are key.

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Have you welcomed juicing into your lifestyle? What are your favorite recipes?

For more information on The Skinny on Health’s juicing/smoothing thoughts… 1 // 2  

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