What Your Poop Is Trying To Tell You

There’s virtually no way to have a conversation about poop that isn’t awkward, embarrassing or downright difficult. We all go, but most people — most adults, that is — don’t like to talk about it. The thing is, your poop can offer a wealth useful information about your health.

What the Color of Your Poop Means

If your stool is brown, that’s a good thing. If it’s brown with just a hint of green, that’s a sign that all is well, too. If your poop scoots further along the spectrum, though, it may denote trouble.

Green

Green poop isn’t necessarily worrisome, but it does mean that food is zipping through your digestive system too quickly. Green stool may also be the result of eating certain foods, especially dark, leafy greens that are high in chlorophyll, such as spinach and kale.

Yellow

If your stool is yellow, it may mean its fat content is too high. It could also be symptomatic of celiac disease or an inability to absorb nutrients properly.

White

Poop that’s white, pale or resembles clay in color is often the sign of a blocked bile duct.

Black

Things start getting more serious if your stool is black in color. While it could just be the result of iron supplements or eating black licorice, it could also point to a bleed in the upper part of your intestinal tract.

Red

Like black stool, red stool may indicate bleeding, only this time it originates from the lower intestine. It could also mean hemorrhoids or simply that you dined on beets, Gatorade or other red food and drink recently.

What the Shape of Your Poop Means

Your stool’s shape is just as revealing as its color, if not more so. In fact, it’s so informative that there’s a scientific scale for it called the Bristol Stool Scale. It identifies seven stool types:

Type 1: Hard Pellets

Small, hard pellets that are difficult to pass mean you’re probably constipated, but it should pass soon (no pun intended.) If you’re still blocked up after several days, however, it's important that you talk to your doctor.

Type 2: Lumpy Logs

This also means you’re constipated. Once again, your discomfort shouldn’t last long, but you can help speed things up by snacking on fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water.

Type 3: Cracked Logs

Despite the unappealing description, this is one of the two types of “perfect” poop you want. It should be soft, easy to pass and roughly 2 inches long.

Type 4: Smooth Logs

Stool that is easy to eliminate and resembles a snake or a hot dog is also normal.

Type 5: Soft Pellets

Small, soft pellets that are quick and painless to pass often suggest you need to add more fiber to your diet.

Type 6: Mushy Blobs

If your stool is super-soft and disjointed with jagged edges, it usually means mild diarrhea. Be sure to hydrate to replace lost fluids.

Type 7: Watery Nightmare

You have the runs, a.k.a. diarrhea. This happens when stool races through your digestive tract so rapidly that it never has the chance to form into a solid.

What It Means If Your Stool Floats

Stool that floats typically means one of two things: First, it may mean that it’s high in gas or water content, making it light enough to bob on the surface. Second, it could suggest that your body’s not absorbing nutrients well. Malabsorption like this is usually accompanied by constipation.

If watching your preschool grandchildren play a 14-hour soccer game sounds preferable to talking to your doctor about your bowel movements, you’re not alone. You also need to steel your nerves and have that talk. Stool that’s suspect is almost always trying to tell you something important about your health, and having a tête-à-tête about poop is just another part of the job for your physician.

Is Dairy Really the Best Way To Get Calcium?

Dairy has gone through a lot of marketing changes over the years. At one point milk was touted in commercials as the solution for everything from achieving smooth skin to fending of bullies (yes, really!) Remember the old slogan “Milk: It Does a Body Good” from the 1980s? Back then, milk could do no wrong.

But more recently, dairy products have started to get a bad reputation. Not long ago, dairy was blamed for a wide variety of problems, including acne, weight gain, digestion issues and more. So which is it? Is dairy a caped crusader or a masked foe? The answer is that it’s likely somewhere in between.

Though milk probably isn’t as miraculous as the 1980s led us to believe, it’s also not as bad as some modern activists try to convince us it is. One of milk’s primary health claims is that it strengthens bones due to its calcium content. While it’s true that dairy products contain calcium, are they really the best source of this important component of bone health? Surprisingly, the answer is no! Here are several foods that contain more calcium than a glass of milk (which contains about 300 mg of calcium).

Almonds

Who doesn’t love to snack on almonds? I know I do! I feel even better about it now that I know ¾ cup of almonds contains 320 mg of calcium. So if you’re trying to get more of this important nutrient in your diet, feel free to enjoy a serving of almonds each day. Just don’t eat too much, since these tasty little nuts are also high in calories and can derail your weight loss goals if you aren’t careful.

Kale

If you weren’t already convinced that kale is a superfood you should consume regularly, consider the fact that it’s packed with calcium. Though it can be hard to consume sufficient kale when it’s raw, cooking it makes it easier to eat more. Two cups of cooked or sauteed kale will provide your body with 359 mg of calcium.

Bok Choy

If you haven’t tried bok choy yet, you’re missing out! This delicious Chinese cabbage is a little reminiscent of broccoli in flavor, but it looks more like lettuce. Just two cups of this vegetable can provide you with 316 mg of calcium. Try chopping it up and adding it to salads or stir-fries.

Tofu

Like it or hate it, tofu is a great source of calcium. But you have to find the type of tofu that’s made with calcium sulfate. Extra-firm or firm tofu provides up to 300 mg of calcium per 6-ounce serving. The firmer the tofu, the more calcium it typically contains.

Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice

It’s usually best to cut back on fruit juices because they contain a lot of sugar and calories. But if you feel the need to indulge occasionally, choose orange juice that’s fortified with calcium. An 8-ounce glass of calcium-fortified orange juice can give you approximately 350 mg of calcium. It contains other healthy nutrients, too!

Canned Salmon (With Bones)

Before you cringe at the thought of eating salmon bones, hold on for just a minute! The bones in canned salmon are very difficult to detect because they’ve been softened by sitting in a moist can. The bones themselves are packed with calcium and are great for your body. Try eating canned salmon on top of a green salad, in rice bowls, or on top of pasta. It’s an effective and tasty way to improve your daily calcium consumption.

What do you think of this list of calcium-rich foods? If you don’t like dairy or are lactose intolerant, these are all great alternative foods to help you meet your daily calcium intake needs.

The 5 Best Vitamins for Your Joints if You’re an Active Senior

Often, I hear people say they’re surprised I’m so “active for my age.” I have to admit, there’s a big part of me that’s proud when I hear such things, and a small part of me that feels a little indignant. Why do people automatically expect the seniors in their lives to become fragile and immobile? I certainly don’t subscribe to that idea!

But I have to be honest. Within the past few years, I’ve noticed more joint pain than usual. So I decided to look into supplements (specifically vitamins) and learn which nutrients can help minimize my joint pain. I found out that these are the best vitamins for the active senior to take for joint support.

1. Vitamin D

I like to call Vitamin D the Captain America of the vitamin world. I mean, this guy is no lightweight! Vitamin D is touted to help all kinds of things, from general immunity to your mood. It turns out that taking a vitamin D supplement can also help relieve joint discomfort.

Vitamin D is great for bone health because it reduces inflammation in the joints and it helps your body absorb calcium (which is one of the most important components in your bones). If you’re not a fan of supplements, try getting more of this important vitamin from fish, whole milk (or fortified milk), cod liver oil, mushrooms, eggs and cheese.

2. Vitamin K

You’ve probably heard of vitamin D and how important it is for your health, but when’s the last time you heard someone say you should increase your consumption of vitamin K? Though it’s talked about much less than most other vitamins, vitamin K is essential for good bone formation.

This unassuming vitamin helps to make bones strong by activating proteins that help with bone mineralization and formation. It’s important to note that vitamin K deficiencies aren’t very common. Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets. Foods such as spinach, broccoli, eggs, liver, and strawberries are all high in vitamin K.

If you think your body could use a boost of this important bone-health ingredient, try supplementing with it. There are no known risks of taking too much vitamin K, but it is best to carefully follow the recommended daily intake instructions on your vitamin K supplement packaging.

3. Vitamin C

Scientists have done some research on vitamin C and its role in bone health, and the results are very interesting. It appears that vitamin C stimulates the cells responsible for building bone. It also enhances the effects of vitamin D on bone metabolism and aids calcium absorption. Who knew?

Vitamin C also plays a role in forming collagen (an important component of bones). Research also shows that this lovely vitamin may help prevent osteoporosis. So load up on these foods that are packed full of vitamin C: bell peppers, cruciferous vegetables, Guava fruit, kiwifruit, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

4. Vitamin E

You probably already know that vitamin E is really great for your skin, but did you know it can help reduce oxidative stress on joint cartilage as well? Some studies show that vitamin E helps reduce joint pain more than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs!

Foods high in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, nuts, avocado, salmon, mango, kiwifruit, and wheat germ oil. Add these foods to your diet or supplement with vitamin E to boost joint comfort and health.

5. B Vitamins

B vitamins are great for energy, and they can also help reduce joint pain. Vitamin B12, in particular, reduces the amino acid homocysteine (which is usually high in people with rheumatoid arthritis). You can get vitamin B12 from organ meats, fortified cereal, beef, and tuna.

So there you have it! A list of delicious, natural foods that are packed full of joint-healthy vitamins. Try to incorporate these foods into your diet and consider supplementing with the above-mentioned vitamins if you think you’re deficient.

The Problem With Beach Body Diets and the Unrealistic Beauty Ideal

People commit to losing weight fast every spring and summer using beach body diet plans — not to be confused with specific brands. Consequently, you see many people choosing unhealthy fad diets in the hopes of looking good in a bathing suit.

The Nagging and Unrealistic Pursuit of Ideal Beauty

Before diving into the consequences and problems with fad dieting, it is necessary to discuss the idea of beauty. As women age, they must come to terms with their bodies changing and no longer looking like bikini-clad supermodels. In all honesty, how many women can even live up to those male- and industry-driven preferences even when in their 20s and 30s?

At some point in nearly every woman’s life, she acknowledges a discrepancy between actual and perceived beauty. Natural beauty is attainable, and it is about making your best life through healthy physical, dietary, and mental decisions. Perceived beauty is unrealistic and can encourage negative stigmas and behaviors, including eating disorders and body shaming. Unrealistic expectations and the pressure to be viewed as attractive in a magazine or Hollywood sort of way are the primary motivation behind rapid weight loss and fad diets.

While women typically lead the charge in the beauty debate, men are also affected. The pressure to present outward attractiveness regardless of the methods used to achieve it is a societal problem. People need to take to heart the idea that beauty is more than a number on a scale or flawless complexion; it is confidence and self-respect.

The Unsustainable Fads of Beach Body Diets

Beach body diets are typically focused on restriction and elimination. Dieters are expected to reduce their calories, typically beyond healthy limits, and eliminate specific foods or food groups. Through caloric disparity and nutritional sacrifice, weight loss is inevitable, and when compounded with aerobic routines, it is easy to make promises.

Unfortunately, these fad diets are not sustainable, and their effects are not long-lasting. If a person commits to the four weeks or another timeframe, they will lose weight. However, if they do nothing to alter their relationship with food and exercise, the pounds will return, and in some instances, more than before.

Fad diets tend to wreak havoc on your metabolism, and consequently, it may never return to normal. Instead of choosing a fad for rapid weight loss, select a sustainable diet, focusing on nutrition and healthy activity. True, you may not lose at the same pace as other fad diets, but you will lose healthily and sustainably, resulting in a lifestyle change rather than a temporary fix.

Real Change Starts With Realistic Objectives

If you are ready to lose weight and get fit, restrictive diets and fads are counterproductive. They require too much sacrifice too quickly, leading to motivational issues and potential feelings of inadequacy.

Real change starts with minor adjustments, like eating more vegetables or drinking less soda. You want to build healthy habits. Before starting any new diet, take your time to prepare for the change, allowing you to build confidence in your decision.

What is your experience with fad diets? Leave a comment and let the community know what worked for you and what didn’t. Do you think fad diets are helpful tools in permanent weight loss or sustained weight management?

5 Healthy Snacks Everyone Can Enjoy

Hanger is real, and it is a problem. However, rather than letting your worst angels take advantage of you when you feel ravenous, it is better to save your family and have a snack.

While most people turn to homemade snacks without the preservatives and added chemical ingredients, you will not always have time to make a snack from scratch, which means you will need some store-bought options mixed with handmade selections.

Finding Healthy Options

When looking for healthy snacks, you will still need to focus on ingredients, even if you resort to store-bought selections. There are several things you will want to keep an eye out for, including:

  • Added Sugars
  • Calories per serving
  • Low-nutrient value

When selecting your snacks, look for items high in protein and fiber. Both items ensure the snack is filling, especially when several grams of each are included. Additionally, you want your snacks to have whole grains and complex carbohydrates, which are satiating and provide energy.

Selecting the Best Snack Options

When it comes to healthy snacks, you will receive a decent balance of nutritional balance and satiation. There are at least four healthy snack options for you and your family to enjoy.

1. Fruit

One of the best snacks for any diet is fruit. Fruit packs a powerful nutritional punch, and it often pairs well with grains or nut butter. For example, snacking on apples or bananas with a bit of peanut butter or almond butter provides a well-rounded and filling snack. Or, you can try upping your intake of antioxidants by choosing berries and pairing those with almonds.

2. Granola Bars

Not all granola bars are created equal. When looking for options at the grocery store, be sure to read the ingredients and nutrition label. Many companies sell granola snacks under the guise of healthy food, but when you review the labels, the items are swimming in added sugar and preservatives.

Some of the best commercial granola bar options include brands like Kashi, KIND, and RXBar. However, if you would rather make your own, there are plenty of recipes online — peanut butter granola bars are delicious.

3. Yogurt and Granola

An excellent combination snack, yogurt and granola is often reserved as breakfast food, but why? It is a readily available mix that you can grab from the fridge at a moment's notice. Additionally, it is a protein-powerhouse.

As with most snacks, however, you want to be careful when buying yogurt, watching the labels for added sugars. If you don't mind a bit of extra work, you can look for plain yogurt and add your own sweetness using maple syrup or honey.

If you are interested in making your own granola, you can, again, look online. There are so many health-conscious people out there putting up healthy granola recipes, some using crockpots and other more traditional or quick methods.

4. Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a high-protein snack on their own, but roasting these tiny beans creates a crispy, crunchy, addictive delight. While you can roast your own chickpeas, there are many brands, like the Good Bean, that sell crunchy chickpeas in a variety of flavors.

The beauty of this snack is one serving is equivalent to the fiber intake of two cups of broccoli, the folate intake of three cups of spinach, and equal to the protein of a serving of almonds — all that nutritional power in an on-the-go snack.

Do you have a favorite healthy snack? Leave a comment below explaining your answer.

Do Legumes Help With Weight Loss?

Legumes (pronounced “leh-gyoomz”) are the seeds or fruits of a certain type of plant family called Fabaceae. The legume family includes lentils, peas, peanuts and beans. Legumes have a very rich nutritional profile and they are full of protein and healthy fibers. They also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are good for the body and can help you maintain a healthy weight.

I’ve always liked the way legumes taste and the way they keep me satiated for long periods. But I had no idea they could help me lose weight until recently. But like many good things in life, there is some controversy surrounding legumes. I’ll go over that information and why I think it isn’t a big deal, and I’ll also show you the astonishing information I learned about using legumes as a weight-loss tool.  

Why Do Legumes Have a Bad Reputation?

There are a couple of things people don’t like about legumes. First, they contain phytic acid (we’ll talk about why that matters in a minute. Second, they tend to cause intestinal distress in people who aren’t used to eating them.

Though legumes have an exceptional nutritional profile, that profile is somewhat negated by certain antinutrients. Legumes contain phytic acid, which can inhibit optimal absorption of certain minerals (such as calcium, zinc and iron). But phytic acid is not unique to legumes. In fact, it’s found in all edible plant seeds.

Generally, the only people who need to worry about the phytic acid content in legumes are those who eat little o no meat. This is because people who eat meat get sufficient minerals to offset the potential negative impacts of phytic acid from legume consumption.

Additionally, you can reduce the phytic acid content of the legumes you consume by sprouting them, soaking them or fermenting them. Incidentally, these preparation methods can also help you avoid the intestinal discomfort associated with legume consumption.

How Can Legumes Help With Weight Loss?

Now that we’ve gotten the controversial aspect of legume consumption out of the way, let’s dive right into what we really want to know: how do legumes assist with weight loss? It turns out they help in multiple ways, including:

  • Helping you feel full longer
  • Curbing cravings
  • Lowering blood sugar

As I mentioned earlier, legumes are full of protein and fiber. Both are great for helping you feel full longer so you don’t spend so much time snacking. They also help curb cravings so you have an easier time sticking to a healthy diet.

Finally, legumes can help you avoid spikes in blood sugar. Since legumes are low on the glycemic index, they do not raise blood sugars rapidly as white flour and breads do. Low-glycemic foods are associated with improved weight loss.  

How To Enjoy Legumes

Now that you know how important legumes can be on your weight-loss journey, it’s time to talk about how to enjoy them. Just remember that before using any of these methods, soak your legumes to lower their phytic acid content.

  • Add legumes to soups, casseroles and stews
  • Add cooked beans to your burgers and/or meatballs
  • Puree beans and seeds to use as vegetable dips
  • Sprinkle a few black beans, lentils or chickpeas onto a fresh green salad

These are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy legumes in my daily diet. Give them each a try to see which option you prefer. You can also sprout your legumes to enjoy maximum nutritional benefits. It’s pretty easy to find sprouting guidelines online for different types of legumes. Remember to also exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, and consume other healthy foods to get the greatest weight-loss benefits from your legume consumption.

5 Reasons Restrictive Diets Will Never Work

A restrictive diet is one where you lose weight by giving up certain foods. Sometimes, this is a healthy choice, such as avoiding junk food. But most of these diets tell you to cut out entire food groups, such as carbs. Some force you to carefully measure the amount of calories you take in. The big question is, do restrictive diets work?

Why Don't Restrictive Diets Work?

According to expert nutritionists, any diet that is restrictive is practically doomed to fail from the very beginning. Why?

  1. Old habits: As I think most of know from personal experience, restrictive diets tend to be a temporary thing. No one really wants to eat cabbage soup every day or give up on chocolate for good. After 3–6 months, most people go back to eating how they used to, which adds on all those pounds again.

  2. Cheating: Let’s face it, denying yourself things that taste good is hard work. It feels like you’re punishing yourself. That opens up the door to “cheating,” weekend splurges that undo a whole week’s worth of progress.

  3. Unrealistic expectations: Any diet that sets your caloric intake really low is never going to work long term for most people. When you start to experience extreme hunger, nausea, headaches, dizziness and other symptoms, you’re probably going to give in to what your body is telling you: “I need more energy!”

  4. Changes in metabolism: You can try to fight your body with restrictive diets, but it’s a losing battle. Your metabolism starts to work against you. Burning calories takes longer because your energy production slows down. It’s like your body is saying: “You think you can starve me? Think again!”

  5. Band-Aid “fixes”: Restrictive diets don’t work because they’re superficial. They only focus on food, completely overlooking other causes of weight gain: stress, sleep problems and low activity levels. Ignoring these underlying issues makes weight come back sooner rather than later.

Overall, eating tasty, nutritious foods is good for you. It makes you happy, and it should. This healthy feeling goes against the rules of restrictive diets, so it’s always going to be hard to follow this type of diet.

How Can You Lose Weight for Good?

If you really want to lose weight, you need to focus on making long-term changes, not following short-term fad diets. It’s absolutely possible to stay slim, love your body and feel happy at the same time.:

  • Choose a balanced diet that you can realistically live with: Make sure you have a wide range of healthy options for meals. Then, stick with this type of eating.

  • Eat food that's naturally good for you: Include more fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, probiotics and lean proteins.

  • Get more physical activity: This is one of the biggest keys to long-term weight loss. It’s better to burn up those 2,000–2,500 calories by exercising for 15 minutes a day than to eat an unrealistic 1,000-calorie diet.

  • Drink plenty of water: Many people feel hungry when they’re actually thirsty. Avoid weight gain by drinking a full eight glasses of water a day. That’s good for your kidneys and heart anyway.

  • Use healthy proteins to calm the munchies: The next time you have the munchies, don’t say "no." Say "yes," but eat filling protein instead of junk food. Grab some almonds, pistachios, Greek yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled eggs or smoked salmon.

One diet did work great long term in studies. The Mediterranean diet. It helps you stay slim because it’s focused on heart-healthy, natural foods.

Are “Teatoxes” a Good Idea?

There are so many new diet fads and discoveries coming out all the time that it seem nearly impossible to keep up with them all. One of the most recent fads I’ve heard about is the “teatox.” I like a nice, refreshing cup of tea now and then, but I’d never considered that tea could potentially be used as a cleanse to detoxify the body.

Luckily, I have friends who hear about and try different cleanses and diets before I do, so I get to rely on their experience a bit. One of my friends tried a teatox recently and told me that although she felt very fatigued while she was doing it, she felt much more refreshed and healthy afterward. So I decided to look into the practice a bit before trying it myself. Here’s what I found out.

What Is a Teatox?

A teatox is the practice of drinking teas infused with various things (such as stimulants, laxatives and diuretics for as much as 30 days (or even more!) For optimum results, you’re supposed to exercise eat lightly throughout the process (so it’s not a tea-only detox).

Consumers are showing a lot of interest in this practice, according to the energetic response to this new diet and detoxing fad. But are teatoxes safe, or should we be worried about them? That’s what I set out to learn, and the answer is a little bit fuzzy. But first, let’s dive into what a teatox is purported to do.

What Can a Teatox Do?

When done correctly, a teatox is purported to do the following:

  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Boost energy
  • Reduce bloat
  • Speed weight loss

It’s the last benefit in the above list that has people flocking to this new practice. This doesn’t really surprise me, though, considering that many of us have such a difficult time losing weight (myself included!) If there’s a practice that can help boost our efforts, many of us will give it a try!

What’s in a Teatox?

There are a variety of teatox products out there, and the type you choose depends on your primary goals. Whether you go with the Skinny Fit Tea, Flat Tummy Tea or any of the other cleverly-named teatox products out there, you’ll probably find the following ingredients in common between them:

  • Laxatives (such as senna leaf or senna)
  • Guarana (a stimulant)
  • Caffeine (in some cases, up to four times the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee!)

Different teas may contain additional ingredients, such as cinnamon, licorice, burdock root, milk thistle and other herbs. It’s not the herbs that are of concern, though. Herbs tend to be good for physical health. It’s the high amount of stimulants and laxatives in these products that should be looked at with a wary eye. Of course you’ll lose weight if the small amount of food you’re eating while on the teatox diet is very quickly eliminated from your body in the form of urine or diarrhea.

Is a Teatox Appropriate for Everyone?

So, it seems like Teatoxing can help you lose weight more quickly. But at what cost are you getting off those extra pounds? When you take laxatives over long periods, your body may not have adequate time to absorb nutrients from the food you eat. This could eventually lead to nutrient deficiencies. Additionally, overuse of laxatives has been linked to liver damage according to LiverTox website.

Finally, too much caffeine and other stimulants can potentially cause nausea, vomiting and rapid heartbeat. For these reasons, I don’t particularly recommend using a teatox to help you lose weight. There are just too many negative side effects that might come along with these popular new weight-loss products.

Is It Good or Bad To Eat Something Before Bedtime?

It’s amazing how many different opinions people have about eating before bed. Some people say it’s great for dealing with insomnia and others warn that it’s the reason you have trouble sleeping in the first place. What’s the truth?

Does Eating Before Bed Affect Your Sleep Quality?

If you have trouble sleeping at night, eating a lot of food before bedtime may be the reason why. Men are affected by this, but women are affected even more:

  • Making it harder to fall asleep
  • Waking you up in the middle of the night
  • Interrupting normal sleep cycles
  • Decreasing the amount of time you spend in restful sleep

It's important to emphasize that sleep issues are mainly caused by foods that are high in fat, sugar or calories. Snacking on potato chips, ice cream, nachos, pizza or pie — or eating a big meal right before bed — can definitely affect sleep quality.

Do Certain Foods Make You Sleepy?

The good news is that not all foods are bad for bedtime. In fact, some are great for falling asleep. Foods containing tryptophan, serotonin or melatonin can help you unwind, feel calm, and sleep better. Here are my favorite nighttime superstars:

  • Kiwi slices
  • Tart cherries/tart cherry juice
  • Almonds
  • Milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Bananas
  • Chamomile tea
  • Passionflower tea
  • Valerian root tea

I'm serious. Eat a kiwi before bed for a week and let me know how it goes. I didn’t believe it either, but it works wonders!

Does Nighttime Snacking Make You Gain Weight?

Some people gain a LOT of weight when they eat at night. Others actually lose weight! Why the difference?

It all comes down to portion control and calories. If you know you get hungry around bedtime, making yourself a healthy turkey sandwich an hour or so before bed won’t add to your waistline. In fact, it may help you eat more balanced meals the next day.

Some people like to eat a bowl of cereal, some fruit, or Greek yogurt. I prefer grabbing a portion of mozzarella cheese or some nuts.

Does a Healthy Diet Help You Sleep Better?

Do you remember how amazing you felt the last time you woke up completely refreshed? That’s how sleep is supposed to be all the time, but stress and health problems get in the way.

A healthy diet supports good sleep by giving the body has enough nutrients to produce lots of sleep hormones. Fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and antioxidants are all needed. Omega-3 fatty acids increase production of melatonin, the brain chemical that controls your sleep cycle.

To get plenty of omega-3s, add fresh fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, etc.) to your diet a couple of times a week, or take a supplement. Eating a Mediterranean diet with lots of fresh veggies, fruit, olive oil and lean meats can be a great help, too.

Do You Really Need To Worry About Sleep Quality?

Your body doesn't start to repair itself at night until stage three of sleep (deep sleep). Stage four (REM sleep) is essential for brain health and memory. What this means is that waking up at night makes you miss out on health benefits.

That’s why you feel exhausted, sore or irritable. It’s why you have trouble concentrating or remembering. Your immune system suffers, too.

Falling and staying asleep is no joke. This is a pillow fight you need to win!

4 Ways To Maintain Good Colon Health

Let’s cut to the chase: It can be awkward — downright embarrassing even — to talk about colon health. No one enjoys discussing such sophisticated topics as fiber intake, constipation or what it’s like to get a colonoscopy.

The thing is, your colon’s health is crucial to your overall well-being. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most prevalent cancer in the United States. One in 24 women will face a colorectal cancer diagnosis in her lifetime. That number’s not much better for men, either. One in 22 men is diagnosed with this type of cancer.

If that’s not enough motivation to make you long for the healthiest colon this side of the Mississippi, know that your colon is a major player in your digestive system. The better shape it’s in, the better shape your entire body is in. Here’s how to take good care of your colon.

1. Eat Lots of Fiber

You likely know that a diet that’s high in fiber helps you stay “regular.” What you may not realize is that simply keeping things moving down there is one of the best ways to prevent diseases affecting the colon.

Most people should shoot for 25-35 grams of fiber each day. Some of my favorite fiber-rich foods to nosh on include:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Lentils
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli

These are some of fiber’s heaviest hitters. Generally speaking, however, a diet that’s full of virtually any fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a tremendous way to boost your daily fiber intake. What’s more, individuals who eat a healthy, colorful diet tend to weigh less, which also decreases the risk of colorectal disease.

Still not convinced that it’s time to swap out those potato chips for carrot sticks? The antioxidants and nutrients present in most fruits and veggies have been linked to a lower risk of colorectal illness, too.

2. Exercise Regularly

Another great way to move your bowels is to move your body. Whether you take a fitness class at your local gym or simply take regular walks after dinner, that boost to your blood flow and overall circulation helps your digestive tract become more efficient.

3. Drink Up

Is there no limit to the wonders that drinking enough water can do? When it comes to your colon, quenching your thirst helps flush waste and other toxic materials out of your body, lowering your risk of disease.

If you struggle to squeeze your eight glasses of H2O in each day, consider using a water tracking app on your phone or charting it the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper.


4. Don’t Skip That Colonoscopy

Colorectal cancers may be common, but they’re also very treatable if caught early. That’s why regular colonoscopies are crucial to your health.

What constitutes a “regular” colonoscopy depends on your age and various risk factors, which include not only your personal and family history with colorectal cancer but also other digestive issues such as IBS. The average person, for example, should likely have the procedure done once every 10 years, starting at age 50. (If you have a family history of colon cancer, talk with your doctor about how much earlier you should start.) During the procedure, your doc will not only check for signs of cancer but also remove any polyps or other abnormal growths that may develop into cancer or otherwise cause harm if left unchecked.

Being proactive about your colorectal health is critical to your overall health. Sure, it often means having an indelicate chat with your physician, but remember: It’s his or her job to talk about that stuff! More to the point, your doc talks about bowel movements as often as you do Real Housewives and your grandkids. Don’t let the potential for an awkward moment prevent you from taking the best care of yourself that you can.