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By Dr. Maoshing Ni – Posted on Thu, Apr 16, 2009, 4:06 pm PDT

Trying to change your habits and routines can be daunting, even when you know the changes are for the better. Try these 8 simple switches below to slim down and live a long and healthy life.

1. Swap green tea for coffee
For many people, the first thing they reach for in the morning is coffee. Caffeine acts as a CNS (central nervous system) stimulant, causing you to experience stress, anxiety, a racing mind, and even insomnia. For a calmer energy boost, cut the coffee and go for green tea. On average, a cup of green tea contains about one sixth of the amount of caffeine you would get from the same cup of coffee. Even better, green tea is full of powerful antioxidants that ward off cancer, and tea is a proven preventive and treatment for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).  Also, when combined with exercise, green tea can help you lose weight.

2. Try trailmix in place of fatty snacks
Carry dried fruits and nuts with you as healthy snacks to replace any unhealthy ones you usually eat. Just a handful every day can help improve circulation and muscle tone. Research shows that many of these nuts and seeds are rich sources of vitamin E, lignans, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease and protect you from the ravages of aging.

3. Switch brown rice for white rice
Modern staples around the world often include refined bread, pasta, rice, and corn. These carbohydrates that have been found to be the culprits in serious conditions like diabetes, stroke, and heart disease, arthritis, and allergies. And there is no question that refined carbohydrates contribute directly to weight gain. So change to whole grains to get complex carbohydrates; said another way, swap “white” for “brown”. Substitute white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole wheat pasta. Other “browns” will bring you anti-aging benefits also. Quinoa and amaranth are two tasty grains rich in protein and easy to cook. Millet, sorghum, and buckwheat are packed with B vitamins.

4. Swap fish for red meat

Red meat does have some health benefits-when eaten in moderation. However, studies have shown that men and women who eat meat every day are three times as likely to develop breast cancer and prostate cancer as those who almost never eat high-fat animal foods. Of all animal products, fish is the healthiest because of its high protein and low-fat content. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish, along with other nutrients, protect blood vessels from plaque, reduce inflammation, and prevent high blood pressure. If you just can’t leave the red meat behind, choose only free-range, grass-fed, and hormone- and antibiotic-free lean meat, and eat it no more than three times a week.

5. Use olive oil instead of butter
Butter is the bad kind of fat. Also included in this saturated fat category: peanut oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and lard. All of these elevate cholesterol and triglyceride levels, leading to an increased chance of heart attack and stroke. Switch for olive oil or one of the other monounsaturated fats, which increase good cholesterol and protect you from heart disease and premature skin aging. Others include canola oil, rice bran oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, peanut oil, and sesame oil. Like butter on your bread? Try hummus instead.

6. Swap sweet potatoes for potatoes
While filling, potatoes just do not contain the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes. Yams and sweet potatoes are powerhouse foods that contain higher amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C than carrots, more protein than wheat and rice, and more fiber than oat bran. They are also rich in plant DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)-a precursor hormone that is essential for the body’s anti-aging defenses to work.

7. Swap berries for refined sweets
The average American consumes nearly 240 pounds of sugar per year. Most of the excess sugar from candies, pastries, sodas, and other refined sweets end up being stored as fat in your body, resulting in weight gain and elevating heart disease and cancer risk. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with a berry tasty treat: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and cherries. Berries are rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals and can also help remove toxic residue from the system, which is often the cause of chronic fatigue and low energy.

8. Switch to water in place of soda
Soda pop is very high in phosphorus, which in excess actually causes calcium loss from your bones, possibly leading you to osteoporosis. Diet soda is filled with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or saccharin, which have shown dangerous results in tests with laboratory animals. Your best beverage is filtered water, which flushes your system of the chemicals and toxins that you encounter every day. If water by itself doesn’t appeal, turn to juice and tea. One caution about fruit juice is that it tends to be filled with sugar. Cut back on sugar content by watering down your juice: one part juice to three parts filtered water. Unsweetened herbal tea, brimming with health benefits, is another way to go. For a selection of healthy teas that promote total body wellness, click here.

Make these switches and you are on your way to a healthier you!

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

–Dr. Mao

Source: http://health.yahoo.com/experts/drmao/18550/8-super-food-swaps-for-longevity/;_ylt=AoOziwKm.SdONVm78q1Wb8t1kIV4

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People who carry excess weight around the belly are at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer. Reasearchers at Wake Forest University found that trans fats,* which has filled our packaged processed food

products, increase the amount of fat around the belly. These trans fats not only add new fat but move fat from other areas of the body.

It is visceral** fat that surrounds the organs in the belly. When this fat is present in high amounts it is associated with heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some types of cancer. One recent study also found that this kind of weight gain can also increase dementia later in life.

In addition to the poor American diet, and lack of exercise, stress is said to be a cause of this belly fat. Our bodies have been designed for fight or flight. Therefore, it stores some fat around the middle so it can be easily accessed for energy when we are under stress. After we have dealt with the stress, the hormone known as cortisol then tells your body to eat to refuel. While this has worked well for our ancestors, in the case of war or wild animals, we seldom have the need to flee or engage in any kind of physical activity. However, our body still triggers the same fat-storage pattern. And the fat remains around our bellies.

As we move away from processed foods, there are studies that show that certain foods can help us lose this belly fat. Food in its natural state is always recommended rather than supplements. Following is a list of those foods and links to other information.

The Food List:

blueberries

Blueberries – Recent research from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center show that 1 and 1/2 cup of blueberries can help reduce belly fat by up to 12 percent. Blueberries can activate a gene responsible for burning belly fat while also turning down a gene that helps to store fat.

nuts

Nuts – Research has shown that people who snack on almonds as part of a low-calorie diet over a six month period can reduce their body weight by 18 percent thus slimming their waist line and reducing all over body fat.

Chinese-Green-Tea-Sampler

Green tea (see link) – According to a study done by the ‘Journal of Nutrition’ five cups of green tea daily can help you shed twice as much weight with most of the weight being around the middle. The catechins (antioxidants) are believed to boost energy and enchance fat-burning.

Foods with Potassium – Foods rich in potassium are key to ensuring your lean muscles stay in tip top shape. Potassium helps to neutralize acids known to trigger muscle-wasting as we grow older. Adults who eat potassium rich foods have about 3.6 pounds more musce than people who eat the least amount of potassium.

Potassium is an essential mineral that supports cellular health; it is not stored in the body like other minerals. Therefore, we need to include potassium rich foods in our daily diet.

Foods that are rich in potassium include:

– asparagus – it has three grams of fiber which cleanses your digestive system, has 288 milligrams of potassium per cup, and almost no sodium – so no bloating

– almonds – which may explain why nuts, listed above, are good for reducing belly fat

Also:

– prunes

– raisins

– bananas

– a baked potato with skin on

– spinach

– tomatoes

– sunflower seeds

– seaweed (dulse, kelp)

– beans

As well as endives, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, avocado, yams, dates, brazil nuts, mushrooms, turmeric, oranges, onions, apples, lentils, cayenne, cherries, grapes, etc.

Breastfeeding – Yet another of the many benefits of breastfeeding. A study from the University of Pittsburgh showed that by breastfeeding, women can lower the risk of heart disease by 10%. The explanation given is that breastfeeding can reduce belly fat, which stresses the heart.

Probiotics (see link) – The excess of bad bacteria in the belly causes irritation that leads to indigestion and gas as well as fluid retention and bloating. Probiotics will make these symptoms disappear. Probiotics are found in fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, miso soup, homemade pickles, etc.

* trans fats are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. This is a fat created by adding hydrogen to vegetable fat. Manufacturers use it because it is cheap and gives products a long shelf-life. It is found in cakes, cookies, pastries, margarine, non-diary creamers, etc. It is imperative that you read labels.

Further, dozens of studies have shown that trans fats is linked to heart disease. Here in NYC legislation has been approved to phase out trans fats used in restaurant kitchens. This is also true in the city of Boston and the state of California. HOWEVER – BE WARNED – a loophole in the FDA’s labeling requirements has allowed processors to add as much as 0.49 grams of trans fats per serving and still claim their product has zero trans fats. I see this all the time on packaged products in the supermarket. You must read the label because even if it says zero trans fats – it if lists partially hydrogenated oil – it has trans fats.

** Visceral – refers to the viscera, the internal organs of the body. Specifically the organs within the chest (heart and lungs) or in the abdomen (liver and pancreas).

Source: http://hubpages.com/hub/Foods-to-Help-You-Lose-the-Belly-Fat

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