Eat These Vitamin-Rich Foods for a Healthy, Balanced Diet

vitamin d

 

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just eat a more balanced diet, it’s important to get enough vitamins every day in order to maintain your health. Vitamins help your body grow and function optimally by boosting immunity, maintaining eye health, keeping your bones strong, raising your energy levels and much, much more.

When your body doesn’t get the vitamins it needs, however, your health can suffer and your risk of developing health issues can increase.

Getting vitamins from food vs. supplements

You may be wondering, “What about supplements? Isn’t it just easier to take a vitamin supplement every day than try to get the right daily intake of vitamins from food?”

Although supplements can have their place in a healthy diet — especially for people who suffer from vitamin deficiencies — they’re not a replacement for a varied, well-balanced diet. Whole, vitamin-rich foods supply the optimal balance of compounds that your body absorbs and uses.

6 essential vitamins and foods that contain them

All the essential vitamins work together to maintain your bodily functions and promote optimal health. However, each vitamin also has its own role in assisting the body with specific functions. Below are the main functions of six of the essential vitamins, as well as examples of good food sources for each one.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is extremely important for healthy eyesight, red blood cell production, immune function, skin health, bones and teeth. It can be found in fortified milk, organ meats, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe and apricots.

B vitamins

There are eight B vitamins — B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, pantothenic acid, niacin, biotin and folic acid — and they have an important role in your body’s ability to create energy and release it when needed. They’re essential for proper nerve function and the formation of red blood cells, as well as a healthy metabolism, brain function, heart function and hormone production.

B vitamins can be found in meat, poultry, fish, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, seafood and eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is especially important when your body is under stress because it helps maintain a healthy immune system and repair damage. It also works as a disease-fighting antioxidant that keeps your cells healthy, improves your body’s iron absorption and promotes teeth and gum health.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, orange juice, kiwis, guavas, papayas, strawberries, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and dark leafy greens.

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is critical for the bone health, calcium absorption and proper immune system function. It can be found in milk, eggs, shiitake mushrooms and some seafood, including salmon, trout and oysters.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage. It also works with the B vitamins to create red blood cells and helps your body use vitamin K and repair muscle cells.

Foods that contain vitamin E include bell peppers, asparagus, sunflower seeds, almonds and dark leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential to forming blood clots, and without it, a person could bleed to death from a small cut. It also helps maintain bone health. Foods containing vitamin K include dark leafy greens, asparagus, parsley, broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Eating a well-balanced diet full of whole foods is the best way to ensure your body is getting all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy and function at its optimal level. Incorporate a variety of the foods listed above into your daily diet — your body will thank you!


How to Avoid the New Year’s Slump to Reach Your Goals

reach goals

 

At this point in January, you may find that you’ve lost motivation and have gotten off track in sticking with the health resolutions you set for this year. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up over it. You are far from alone! According to U.S. News, 80 percent of goal-setters drop their New Year’s resolutions by February.

So how do you pick yourself back up and stop yourself from throwing in the towel completely? Below are five tips to get you back on track so you can feel good about accomplishing your goals come December.

1. Revisit your “why”

There will be plenty of days when you don’t feel like doing what it takes to get healthy. The couch may be calling you to stay cozy instead of lacing up your sneakers and getting outside for a walk in the cold. When this happens, you need to know your “why” — the true, deep reason you want to achieve your goal.

For example, are you looking to lose weight? While looking better and being able to wear certain clothes are certainly good benefits of losing weight, they may not be strong enough reasons for you to commit to healthy eating and exercise over the long term. Getting healthy so you can be around to enjoy your grandchildren or to have the energy to give back to a cause you truly care about are some deeper reasons that may pull you off the couch time and again.

In a nutshell, when you have a strong connection to the reason for your goal, you are much more likely to be successful in reaching it.

2. Be realistic

Make sure your goals are attainable and avoid an “all or nothing” mentality. For example, don’t resolve to NEVER eat ice cream or French fries again. Instead, avoid these foods most of the time but allow yourself to mindfully indulge (and enjoy doing so without guilt) from time to time.

3. Break down big goals into small steps

Set small, attainable goals to work on each week that will help you work toward your larger goals. For each goal, write down every possible action you can think of that you will need to take to reach that goal. Then put the first few actions, or steps, on your calendar. Once those are done, add the next few steps and so on.

4. Track your progress

Keep track of and celebrate each small success to help you stay motivated. If your end goal is to lose 25 pounds, focus on 5 pounds at a time. Each time you lose 5 pounds, acknowledge and celebrate this smaller step toward your larger goal. Some ideas to celebrate might be going to the movies with a friend or buying yourself some new fitness gear.

One great way to track your progress is by keeping a food and/or exercise journal. You’ll be able to look back in your journal to remind yourself of all your hard work and see how far you’ve come. This is a great tool to keep you moving forward whenever you feel you’re losing steam or getting frustrated.

5. Enlist help

Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip your workout or grab a few cookies before dinner. Think about what works best for helping you to stay on track.

It may be as simple as reminding yourself of your “why” and thinking about how giving into temptation will derail you from the better future you want to create for yourself. If you need outside support and accountability, have a trusted friend or family member who you know you can call to help you when you’re facing temptation. Have a friend who is also working toward health resolutions? Propose that you’ll be each other’s accountability partners!

The key is to not let yourself get down when you occasionally get off track — life happens! Take it one day at a time and do the best you can each day. Remember, you still have 11 months to work toward your goals. Apply these tips and you’ll find yourself making great progress in no time.


The Dangers of Weight-Loss Supplements

Weight-Loss Supplements

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve probably been tempted by weight-loss supplements. These products claim to help you shed pounds faster, but are they too good to be true?

In a word, yes. Weight-loss supplements are largely ineffective and can even be dangerous.

At best, weight-loss pills and supplements deliver very modest results only to some people.

The reality is that there is no get-thin-quick solution. If your goal is to lose weight, “miracle” weight-loss pills and supplements simply won’t deliver.

There are a variety of weight-loss pills and supplements, including prescription and nonprescription drugs, herbal medicines and other dietary supplements.

Studies of prescription medicines have shown that they produce, at best, very little weight loss in only some people. Plus, those limited benefits only come to those who have already made appropriate lifestyle changes.

Even if a pill or supplement is advertised as “clinically proven,” it doesn’t mean that the size, method and duration of the clinical trial was enough to show sufficient evidence of weight loss. For example, one “clinically proven” pill only led to a loss of 3 pounds over an eight-week period.

At worst, weight-loss pills and supplements can be very dangerous and even lethal.

The modest benefits that some people may enjoy from weight-loss supplements are nothing compared to the very real damage they can do to your health.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), weight-loss supplements can cause serious harm. The agency has identified hundreds of products advertised as “dietary supplements” that contain:

  • Hidden active ingredients contained in prescription drugs
  • Unsafe ingredients found in drugs that have been removed from the market
  • Compounds that have not been adequately studied in humans

For these reasons, weight-loss supplements have been known to cause serious health problems.

For example, a prescription weight-loss drug called Meridia was withdrawn from the market after it was found that it contained an ingredient called sibutramine that caused heart attacks and strokes.

Even though Meridia was withdrawn, sibutramine was identified in another weight-loss pill, Slimming Beauty Bitter Orange Slimming Capsules, which was marketed as “100 percent herbal” and safe for use by children as young as 2.

Not only are there tainted pills and supplements, but there are also products that avoid FDA regulation altogether because dietary supplement producers do not need FDA approval prior to marketing their products.

Given the uncertainty and high risk surrounding weight-loss supplements, in addition to the fact that they produce only small benefits in some users, Dr. Dirk strongly recommends avoiding them.

The only safe, effective regimen for weight loss  

Losing weight and getting healthy is a long road that requires discipline, determination and patience. If you want to be successful in your weight loss journey, avoid fads and put in the hard work it takes to lose weight and get healthy.

According to Dr. Dirk, the most reliable and safe way to lose weight is to commit to a good diet and regular exercise. That means consuming a low-carb, high-protein diet made up of small meals and committing to at least one hour of aerobic activity per day.

It’s natural to want a quick solution to weight loss. Unfortunately, no safe or effective “quick” solution exists. The surest and healthiest way to lose weight is to commit to a new lifestyle that emphasizes a sensible diet and regular exercise.