Brain Food: How A Healthy Diet Leads to a Healthy Mind

Originally published on ZeeshanHoodbhoy.com

Myth: Your mind and body are separate.

For both your stomach’s sake, and for your emotional well-being, I’ll have to kindly ask you to very slowly put down that fourth candy bar. It is common knowledge in the nutritional world that excess sugar harms the body both physically and mentally, but let me present to you the chemical proof:

One of our vital neurotransmitters which regulates our mood, serotonin, is produced right alongside the neurons that manage our digestion – in our gastrointestinal tract. Serotonin’s neighbor neurons also have a hand in our mental health, after they’ve of course, finished dealing with the fruits, vegetables, and chocolate bars passing through our system.Things go awry when the sustenance we choose works against us.

According to Eva Selhub MD of Harvard Health Publishing, certain foods just don’t do it for us the way natural sugars do. Processed sugar can actually cause extreme inflammation and debilitate most of the neurons in our gastrointestinal tract, which means not only our digestive system weakens, but the production of sufficient serotonin and our neurons’ ability to cope with stress and mood swings take a substantial hit as well.

Cue a stress-induced reach for that chocolate bar. Our bodies let us know when we need nutrients, but low emotional wellness can also trigger a craving that we don’t actually need, says Jennifer Kromberg PsyD of Psychology Today. An argument at work, unhealthy fasting or dieting, or the promise of a reward after writing a proposal when nothing else seems to be going quite right in our lives, are all dangerous paths that can lead to the understandable desire for quick and easy processed sugar.

I think of it as a cyclical process. If we are having these unhappy cravings, there’s a high chance our serotonin levels are already too low, and unhealthy foods are going to make matters worse. When we reach for that candy bar, we are potentially doing what has damaged our serotonin production and contributed to our dissatisfaction in the first place. Selhub mentions that those who take regular probiotics not only have the advantage of beneficial bacteria to fight off toxins in our food, but have also clearly exhibited positive turns in mental health.

If we want to feel physically strong, deal effectively with outside stressors, and whittle down problematic cravings, then a balanced diet is our key to both a healthier and scientifically- proven-to-be-happier life.

Your gastrointestinal tract and your mental are better off without that devious fourth candy bar anyway. Personally, I trust apples.

Cut The Carbs: A Beginner’s Guide to the Keto Diet

Originally published on ZeeshanHoodbhoy.com

The phrase “low carb” can be scary for a lot of people. It means cutting out grains, sugars, fruits and for some people it means giving up some of their favorite foods. What shouldn’t be scary is how easy it is to make these changes in your everyday life.

The keto diet is known for being a low carb diet that allows the body to produce ketones in the liver for energy. Normally when something high in carbohydrates is put into the body, the body produces glucose and insulin for energy. With the lower carb intake of the keto diet, the body stops producing glucose and insulin and goes into a state known as ketosis.  While in ketosis the liver will start to produce ketones which are the byproducts of the body breaking down fat for energy.

Ketosis is achieved by restricting the amount of carbs and the amount of protein that is being ate. Too many carbs and too much protein can limit the results of the keto diet and take the body longer to reach the state of ketosis. Keto dieters should also stop snacking, start fasting, drink lots of water, and add exercise into their daily routine. Once ketosis is reached, physical symptoms such as increased urination, dry mouth, bad breath, reduced hunger and increased energy will materialize in the individual.

Before starting the keto diet, a strict diet plan should be created to maximize optimal results. A key thing to remember about the keto diet is that the diet should consist of about 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. When setting up a diet plan, the following higher carbohydrate food groups should be cut from the everyday diet:

  1. Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal, pasta
  2. Sugar – honey, agave
  3. Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges
  4. Tubers – potatoes, yams, anything that is a starch

Once the higher carbohydrate foods are removed, the following healthy fats should be added into the diet plan:

  1. Meat – fish, beef, lamb, eggs, poultry, shellfish
  2. Leafy greens – spinach, kale
  3. High fat dairy – butter, high fat cream, hard cheeses
  4. Above ground vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green beans
  5. Avocados & berries – raspberries, blackberries, any berry that has low glycemic impact
  6. Sweeteners – stevia, low carb sweeteners
  7. Other fats – coconut oil, high – fat salad dressing, nut butters

If keto is being done specifically for weight loss, also consider keeping net carb intake at between 20-30g. Net carbs are the total amount of dietary carbohydrates minus the the total fiber. But remember, when starting any diet, you are going to come down with the “flu.” Keto flu symptoms start to take shape when the body transitions from burning sugars for energy to burning flat. Symptoms can range anywhere from sugar cravings to stomach pains, nausea, cramping, and confusion.

Not only is the keto diet a great way to go from a high to low intake of carbs, it also helps with a variety of other health and everyday lifestyle changes. This is a great way to control blood sugar levels, increase mental performance, increase energy and normalize hunger, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve skin by reducing the likelihood of acne.

Best Methods for a Low-Carb Diet

Originally published on ZeeshanHoodbhoy.com

Individuals on low-carb diets may find it difficult to provide their bodies with satisfaction in terms of food, but lowering one’s intake of carbohydrates can be incredibly beneficial health-wise. While these compounds are essential for energy, many people replace carbs with proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. So, why partake in a low-carb diet?

One of the more popular reasons why people choose to go on low-carb diets is because they are looking to lose weight. The notion of ‘carbs = fat’ is fairly common, and while it does hold some truth, it should not be the entire basis for choosing this diet.

Because the human body stores carbohydrates, which can later become fat if not used for energy, many people seem to think that cutting out carbs entirely will result in no fat gained. However, research has shown that after 12 months, individuals on a low-carb diet did not lose more weight than those on a low-fat diet. This can make finding the right balance challenging. But, the following tips can help alleviate those challenges, and help you stick your low-carb fast.

Know Low-Carbs

There are many foods available that are low in carbohydrates, including lean meats such as chicken, pork, or sirloin. Others include fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, apples, and blueberries. If cutting dairy out of your diet proves more challenging than expected, whole milk and plain Greek yogurt are low-carb as well.

Plan Your Meals

Planning your meals ahead of time can save a lot of hassle, especially for those with strict dietary restrictions. Knowing what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day that week is a great way to prevent you from falling off the wagon. Similar to this tactic, meal prepping is just as, if not more effective. Cooking and creating all of your meals for the week allows you to stick to this diet, and avoid giving into cravings such as sweets or fast food. Additionally, this can save you a decent amount of money in the long run.

Know the Different Carbs

Carbohydrates can be categorized as simple or complex. Simple carbs are comprised of easy sugars to digest, which include white sugar and flour. Complex carbs take much longer to digest, and are found in nutrient-rich foods like beans, whole grains, and fiber-heavy fruits. These also tend to make people feel fuller faster. When on a low-carb diet, try to reduce your intake of refined or processed carbs.