Red Meat: Should You Include It in Your Diet?

Red meat is constantly portrayed as poison to a healthy diet. People are continually being advised to avoid red meat, to eat lean proteins instead. Sometimes, the advice is warranted and comes from medical professionals; other times, the nitpicking voice comes from the community “expert” with no medical training or nutritional knowledge. 

Regardless of the loudest voice in the room, as a society, people understand that too much red meat is not good. Still, should you eliminate it from your diet? While there might be many relevant and valid reasons to limit your red meat intake, there are also reasons to enjoy it in your regular diet.

Understanding the Dilemma

Much of the red meat dilemma stems from its legitimate connection to increased cancer risks. According to several studies, people who average 76 grams of red and processed meat per day develop a 20% increased risk of bowel cancer compared to those consuming 21 grams. The research suggests every 50 grams of red meat per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.  

While the threat of cancer is scary enough, other studies also found a link between red meat consumption and other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. The research suggested that replacing one serving of red meat with a healthier protein could reduce mortality risks by seven to 19%.

Advantages of Red Meat

Despite the overwhelmingly negative research and study conclusions, red meat does present some benefits or advantages. For instance, vitamins D and B12 are essential to proper bodily function, and red meat is an excellent source of both. Additionally, red meat is a tremendous source of protein, which is also crucial to a healthy diet. 

However, while red meat is an excellent source of some essential nutrients, it is not the only source of such nutrients. You can find the same nutritional benefits in lean proteins like chicken and fish. Therefore, while red meat can provide some health benefits, you need to weigh the advantages against the known risks.

Disadvantages of Red Meat

There is a long list when it comes to what is wrong with red meat. Red meat is often high in saturated fat and cholesterol. While the body needs certain fats, saturated fats can lead to health complications, like clogged arteries. New research into cholesterol suggests it may not be as bad as initially thought, but that doesn’t mean you need to actively pursue it. 

Red meat and processed meats can also include chemicals that are not good for the body. Sometimes, harmful compounds are created when cooking certain meats at high temperatures. Aside from potentially harmful compounds, it is necessary to consider the known correlation between health problems and red meat. 

Even knowing the increased risks of consuming red meat, you must put the research in context. All studies point to the overconsumption of red meat. No study seems to say that you must eliminate red meat from your diet. Instead, most research suggests limiting your intake. Therefore, if you enjoy your burgers and steak, it is Ok to enjoy them occasionally. Still, it is best to avoid daily consumption of red meat and other processed meats. Moderation is the key to health and happiness.

4 Herbs To Add to Your Diet for a Longer, Healthier and Happier Life

Here’s the thing: The human body is not designed to live for 150 years. However, that doesn’t stop many people from wishing they could be the anomaly so long as they were promised a high quality of life in the next century. In reality, the decline of physical health is a normal and inevitable process. Though the science behind it is complex, gradual health decline occurs largely because of oxidative stress and inflammation. What this means is that, though you are never promised another day, there are several things you can do to preserve your physical and mental health for years, if not decades, to come. One simple step you can start taking today involves changing your diet to incorporate these four herbs for longevity.

1. Ginger

When it comes to “food medicine,” ginger is one of the most potent, easily accessible and tasty remedies you can find in local grocery stores. Ginger has several outstanding benefits, including antioxidative properties, anti-inflammatory properties and cancer-fighting agents. Each of these benefits, when they come together, means one thing: Increased longevity. You can reap the benefits of ginger simply by adding it to your meals a few times a week, shaving off a piece into a hot cup of tea, grating it onto your food or eating it as a fresh extract.

2. Chili Peppers

Though not an herb, chili peppers are often ground up and jarred to be used as spices, which warrants them a spot on this life. Chili peppers of all kinds — including jalapenos, cayenne and red peppers — contain capsaicin, which is the compound that makes them spicy. That compound is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It’s so powerful, in fact, that a 2015 study of over half a million Chinese people found that people who regularly eat spicy foods are less likely to die of all causes than people who rarely or never eat spicy foods.

So, how often should you hit the hot sauce? Because the benefits of capsaicin are cumulative, researchers recommend eating spicy foods as many as six to seven times per week to gain the most benefit.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric has become a trending ingredient in recent years among groups that promote herbal remedies. However, Asian civilizations have been using turmeric as a natural medicine for millennia due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One of the main compounds in turmeric — curcumin — is also an antioxidant. Together, turmeric and curcumin boast several health benefits, including improved memory, better brain health and a reduced risk for chronic conditions. Though it doesn’t hurt to cook with turmeric (it’s what gives curry its flavor), you will need to take a supplement to realize the full health benefits.

4. Ginseng

Ginseng is not called the “king of herbs” for no reason. Ginseng is one of the few plants that is considered an adaptogen, which is a substance that increases the body’s resilience to stressors of all kinds. It does this by acting as a “micro-trigger” to the body, helping it grow stronger to emotional, physical and environmental stressors. Though ginseng cannot help you become impervious to stress, it can improve your ability to react to it in a healthy way and recover more quickly. Considering stress is a major contributor of inflammation and an immunosuppressant, ginseng is one of the best herbs you can add to your diet for increased longevity.

As a bonus, ginseng also boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. As if that’s not enough, a growing body of research suggests that the herb contains cancer-fighting and immunomodulatory properties as well. Moreover, research suggests it can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels and improve memory and learning.

To truly reap the benefits of ginseng, you need to consume it daily. You can take it in capsule form, drink it as an herbal tea or spice your food with it.

Improving your life and lifespan does not have to be hard. Simply by adding the aforementioned herbs to your diet, you can take several leaps in the right direction.

Understanding the Causes and Treatments of Mucus Overproduction

While overproduction of it can become a nuisance, mucus serves a significant purpose: the lubrication and filtration of the respiratory system. Mucous membranes run from your lungs up to your nose. The membranes produce the mucus that acts as a glue or sticky substrate for viruses, dust, and allergens to stick to — think about it like a fly trap.

When these membranes are working optimally, mucus is usually not a problem. Unfortunately, the membranes can sometimes work too hard and overproduce mucus and phlegm, resulting in frequent throat clearing.

Causes of Mucus Overproduction

While there are many illnesses or conditions that can lead to excessive mucus production, your environment can also play a role. Some of the environmental and lifestyle factors that contribute to excess mucus and phlegm include:

  • Dry indoor environments
  • Dehydration
  • Smoking
  • High consumption of coffee, tea, and alcohol
  • Certain medications

While environmental factors and lifestyle choices can lead to mucus overproduction, health conditions often contribute to the problem. The primary issues that lead to mucus overproduction include:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Acid reflux
  • Lung diseases
  • Infections

Remedies for Mucus Overproduction

Many people will experience the overproduction of mucus at least once in their lives, but it is not a frequent experience. Other people have to deal with the problem regularly. If you deal with mucus overproduction frequently, you might want to consult your primary care physician to see if any underlying conditions are causing the problem.

For the occasional occurrence of mucus overproduction, a doctor might recommend either an over-the-counter or prescription medication. OTC medications include those under the category of expectorants. These medicines help to loosen and thin mucus, helping you clear it from your chest and throat as it becomes phlegm.

Some prescription medications fall under the category of mucolytics, like hypertonic saline and dornase alfa. These medicines are mucus thinners, and they are inhaled. A doctor might also prescribe antibiotics if the mucus problem results from a bacterial infection.

Home Solutions for Mucus Overproduction

Medications are not always necessary to alleviate excessive mucus production. In fact, there are at least seven things you can do to help resolve your phlegm and mucus problem.

The first thing you can do is gargle with warm saltwater. The saltwater kills any germs in the back of your throat and can help loosen mucus.

Second, make sure that your home is not too dry. Using a humidifier will help to thin your mucus.

Third, elevate your head. When you lay flat, mucus collects at the back of your throat, resulting in coughing and a need to clear your throat.

Fourth, avoid potential irritants, such as fragrances, pollution, and chemicals. Odorous materials can irritate mucous membranes, resulting in more mucus production.

Fifth, do not use decongestants. While decongestants are excellent medications for drying out secretions, they can actually make it harder to reduce mucus.

Sixth, stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water because it helps mucus flow while loosening congestion. While many people want to drink warm liquids, which can help, you should avoid caffeinated beverages.

Finally, if you smoke, stop. Smoking is notorious for instigating the overproduction of mucus.

The overproduction of mucus can be uncomfortable. There are many possible reasons for the problem, but talking with your doctor is the only way to know what is causing the issue. Have you ever tried any of the relief methods above? If so, which worked best?

Why I Stopped Using My Fitness Tracking App

Since their rise in popularity five to 10 years ago, smartwatches and fitness trackers have changed the way people approach fitness and health. While once upon a time individuals would only count the number of calories they burned while on a treadmill, today they are able to track their process at every waking moment. Not only that, but smart devices enable wearers to monitor their sleep patterns, count their calories, track their heart rates and more. While you, like so many others, may assume that this kind of insider knowledge can help you more easily stay motivated and hit your wellness goals, experts worry that the constant access to data may feed obsessive tendencies. These experts are not wrong.

Constant Tracking Causes Anxiety … And Feeds Addictive Tendencies

If you use a fitness tracking app, you know all too well how quickly fitness — or, rather, the data — can overtake your life. In your pre-app life, you may have gauged your level of fitness on how good you felt, how well your pants fit and how much energy you brought to each day. Since downloading the app, though, you may suddenly feel as if you’re not good enough when you struggle to meet that 10,000-step-a-day milestone.

For instance, your levels of anxiety may increase as the sun begins to set and you only have 8,000 steps logged. Feelings of inadequacy may creep in when you notice that your friend logged 1,000 steps more than you even though you’ve been awake for the same amount of time. Though you may be ashamed to admit it, you may have put a conversation on pause once or twice to jog in place or take a couple of laps around the room.

If you can relate to one or all of the aforementioned scenarios, you have tracking-induced anxiety. Though a new phenomenon, it is common and grows increasingly more so with each passing day. Instead of letting fitness tracking apps continue to zap the pleasure out of working out and nurturing your body, it may be time to revert to the old ways of monitoring your health. Chances are you will be happier for it.

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Fitness Tracking Fosters Unrealistic Expectations

Somewhere between the development of fitness tracking apps and the surge in their popularity, a myth was born, and that is that you need to take 10,000 steps a day to achieve optimal health. There is no scientific basis for this assertion, and, in fact, most active people do not walk this much in a single day. Yet, not only does this myth prevail but also, it contributes to even more unrealistic expectations. These expectations can deter even the most motivated of individuals from walking daily. For people who are just starting out, they can be downright daunting.

Fitness Tracking Does Not Consider the Intensity of a Workout

For you to realize all the touted benefits of exercise, you must succeed at getting your heart rate up. Heart rate increases with the intensity of a workout, not with an increase in the number of steps you take. You can take 10,000 steps every day, but if those steps are taken at a slow pace, they may do you little good. However, if 1,000 of your 7,000 daily steps are taken during a high-intensity exercise, you may be better off than a person who routinely takes 10,000 steps per day. Fitness tracking apps do not take the intensity of a workout into consideration and, therefore, often provide inaccurate data.

The idea behind fitness tracking apps is admirable. Yet, there are several variables for which they do not account and, more worrisome, they cause more stress than they alleviate. For that reason, many people have given them up in 2022, and you should consider doing the same.

5 Winter Soups To Get you Through the Cold

Get rid of those winter chills with five hearty soups. Each recipe can feed an entire family.

1. Bacon Potato Corn Chowder

Are you looking for a hearty soup to warm you up? Look no further than Taste of Home's Bacon Potato Corn Chowder. 

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds potatoes, Yukon Gold, cubed and peeled
  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 can cream corn
  • 1 can milk, evaporated
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Bacon should be cooked over medium heat in a large skillet until crisp. Once crisp, remove the bacon and place it on a paper towel. Except for 1-1/2 teaspoon, the drippings can be discarded. Add onion to the remaining drippings and cook until tender.
  2. Boil potatoes in a large pot, allow water to cover them. Bring the ingredients to a boil using high heat, and then reduce to medium heat and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until tender. Reserve one cup of potato water, draining the rest.
  3. Combine corn, potatoes, milk, salt, pepper, and reserved water to a saucepan, heating thoroughly. Add the onion and bacon.

2. Turkey Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Kale Soup

For those looking to make a meal out of a soup dish, the Taste of Home TBK soup delivers. Once again, you can have a fulfilling meal ready in under 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cartons chicken broth, reduce sodium, 32 oz each
  • 1 butternut squash, about 3 lbs, cubed and peeled.
  • 1 pack turkey sausage links, Italian, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
  • 1 bunch of kale, coarsely chopped and trimmed

Directions:

  1. Over medium heat, cook the sausage, about eight to 10 minutes or until no longer pink. Once cooked, break into pieces.
  2. Add broth and squash to the pot and bring it to a boil. Stir in the kale. Reduce the heat, allowing the soup to simmer until veggies are tender, approximately 20 minutes. Top with cheese.

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3. Tomato Hamburger Soup

This recipe makes about 12 servings. The best part is it uses a slow cooker, meaning it is a set it and forget it type of meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of mixed vegetables, frozen, about 16 oz each
  • 1 pound ground beef, drained and cooked
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup, condensed, undiluted
  • 1 can V8 juice (46 oz)
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion, dried
  • Pepper and salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a five-quart slow cooker. Cook covered on high for a minimum of four hours. Season with pepper and salt.

4. Simple Chicken Soup

Chicken soup and winter seem to go hand-in-hand. This recipe only takes a total of 20 minutes, and make six servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package mixed vegetables, frozen
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup, reduced-sodium, reduced-fat, undiluted
  • 2 cups chicken breast, cooked, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion, dried

Directions:

  1. Combine broth and onion in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the vegetables, covering and cooking for an additional 8 minutes. Stir in soup and chicken, heating through.

5. Easy Chili

While there are plenty of chili recipes out there, this is by far the easiest. In 30 minutes, you will have enough chili for four.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef, lean
  • 10 ounces Rotel tomatoes with diced chiles
  • 15 ounces chili beans, undrained
  • Optional toppings of your choosing

Directions:

  1. Cook ground beef until no longer pink in a three-quart pot and drain the grease.
  2. Combine with other ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for four to six hours.

What are your favorite winter soups? Comment below.

3 Healthy and Fun Halloween Treats

Growing up, people connect Halloween with spookiness and sweet, sugar-filled treats. While candy is delicious and fun, it can also be addictive and set a precedent for improper eating. Candy in moderation is OK, but pillowcases filled to the brim are a bit excessive. The great news is that at home, you can still make sweet and delicious Halloween-themed treats, but they are healthy.

1. Apple Monsters

Who doesn't love an apple? To get the kiddos and adults enthusiastic about the fruit, consider mixing the traditional green apples with nut butter and strawberry slices for a spooky-inspired snack. Let your creative juices flow as you create unique and fun little faces. 

Ingredients:

  • Two green apples, quartered 
  • 32 sunflower seeds (teeth) 
  • Two to three strawberries, sliced (tongues) 
  • Sunflower butter 
  • Homemade googly eyes

Googly Eye Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar 
  • ¼ teaspoon almond or vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch 
  • 2 teaspoons non-dairy milk 
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup 
  • Mini non-dairy chocolate chips 

Googly Eye Instructions:

  1. Whisk the cornstarch and powdered sugar together. Add in all remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips. You want to mix until you have a thick paste. 
  2. Using a Ziploc or piping bag, squeeze out a tiny dot of the mix onto a baking sheet. Do not forget to line the sheet with wax paper.  
  3. Top each dot with a chocolate chip. Let the googly eyes set for a minimum of 24 hours. 

Putting It All Together:

  1. Create a mouth in each quartered apple chunk by cutting the middle out. Fill the gap with sunflower butter. 
  2. Place four sunflower seeds along the top of the cut, creating teeth. Don't worry about even spacing or gaps — these are monsters, after all. 
  3. To create the tongue, take a slice of strawberry and place it along the lower edge.  
  4. Finally, put one or two eyes at the top of the snack. Glue them in place with a bit more sunflower butter.

2. Orange Jack-O-Lanterns 

Many families make a day of picking pumpkins and carving jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. As part of the festivities, why not bring a creative, healthy snack. Oranges make the perfect mini pumpkin stand-in. However, do not fill the "pumpkin" with its guts until two hours before the party. 

Ingredients: 

  • Enough navel oranges for everyone 
  • A mix of your favorite fruits (grapes, cherries, apples, pineapple, etc.)

Instructions: 

  1. Using a sharp knife, slice off the top section of the oranges. Use the blade to separate the innards from the sides. 
  2. Remove the orange segments and set them aside for later. Carve a cute face into each hollowed-out orange. 
  3. Soak up the remaining juices by place a paper towel inside. Remove the towel and fill the oranges with your choice of fruit, including the orange segments from earlier.

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3. "Candy Corn" Parfaits

If you are looking for another quick and easy Halloween treat, look no further than the "Candy Corn" parfait. Made with pineapple, orange slices, and whipped cream, no snack is sweeter than this. 

Ingredients: 

  • Mandarin oranges 
  • Pineapple chunks 
  • Candy Corn 
  • Whipped cream 
  • Mason jars or plastic cups

Instructions: 

  1. In a plastic cup or mason jar, layer in the fruit and whipped cream. The pineapple goes on the bottom, followed by the oranges, and is topped with whipped cream. 
  2. If so desired, you can place a single Candy Corn on the top.  

While candy is excellent in moderation, not every Halloween treat needs to center around a sugar high. Do you know of any other tasty and healthy Halloween treats? Leave a comment.