Super Food Series: Part 7

 

Eggs are a gem for anyone who is trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Just one large egg contains 78 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat…about half of which is unsaturated (healthy) fat. It also includes 13 essential vitamins and minerals. Nutrition research suggests eggs can play a role in weight management, muscle strength, a healthy pregnancy, brain function, eye health, and more. As a bonus, eggs are cost-effective too (around 20 cents per egg)!

High Quality Protein

Eggs are a source of complete protein, which means they contain all 9 essential amino acids. This is important because essential amino acids are those proteins that our body cannot make on its own and, therefore, we must consume them as part of our diet. This type of high quality protein is optimal for building and maintaining muscle as well as reducing hunger and facilitating weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.

Pregnant Women

Eggs are rich in choline, which is an important part of brain and spinal cord development for a developing baby. Most pregnant women do not consume enough choline, so eggs are a cost-efficient solution to this. Just make sure to cook the eggs thoroughly, to reduce the risk of food-borne illness, such as salmonella.

Should I discard the yolk?

No way! Most of the vitamins and minerals in an egg are found in the yolk. About half of the protein is found in the yolk and many of the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D, E, and A, are also found in the yolk. Therefore, the yolk is essential in aiding your body with the ability to absorb fat soluble vitamins.

But, I Heard that Eggs Are Bad for My Cholesterol

New research shows that dietary cholesterol, the cholesterol found in food like eggs, may not negatively impact blood cholesterol levels as much as previously thought. The 2015 Dietary Guideline Recommendations state that saturated-fat and trans-fat are the most detrimental to blood cholesterol levels, as opposed to dietary cholesterol. Since eggs are lower in saturated-fat and have zero trans-fat, it’s safe to say that they can be enjoyed as a part of a healthy diet without worries of upping blood cholesterol levels.

Versatility

There are so many ways to include eggs in your diet. You can hard boil them for a quick snack or poach or scramble them for breakfast. You can make a meal out of them by making an omelet, frittata, or quiche, for breakfast, lunch or dinner!  You can pump up the protein content of your salad by adding hard boiled eggs.  Another great idea is to bake an egg inside an avocado for a nutritious, filling, and delicious breakfast or snack on the go. Check out Pinterest for more inspiration. 

What is Gluten and Why are so Many People Going Gluten Free?

Are you gluten free? Chances are that you’ve either thought about going gluten-free or you know someone who has already adopted the gluten-free lifestyle. Gluten is the protein found in grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Those with celiac disease experience damage to the intestines when they ingest gluten. This is often accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and bloating, and nausea or vomiting, to name a few symptoms.

According to a recent poll, as many as one third of Americans say they would like eliminate gluten from their diet. This is interesting, since less than 1 percent of people have celiac disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. Yet, many people continue to view gluten unfavorably despite having no apparent sensitivity or intolerance to gluten.

While a gluten-free diet is a necessity for someone with celiac disease, it may not be beneficial for others who are not gluten intolerant. If not done properly (with the help of a doctor or dietician), a gluten-free diet may be lacking in many vitamins and minerals, such as folate, iron, thiamin, niacin, fiber, and riboflavin. Furthermore, studies show that people on a gluten-free diet tend to consume a higher amount of calories from fat, and less from carbohydrates.

Many of the positive benefits that people (who are not diagnosed with celiac disease) experience while on a gluten-free diet can be attributed to the fact that a gluten-free diet cuts out a lot of processed food and “junk” food. Someone who is looking for the same benefits, such as more energy and weight loss, could adopt a Mediterranean style diet.  The Mediterranean diet is consistently promoted by health professionals as one of the healthiest and most balanced diets available. For starters, it’s a well-balanced style of eating that is rich in fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and seafood.  Other foods like dairy, red meats, and sweets are not entirely eliminated, but consumed less often. For more about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, visit the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. blog.

Stages of Sleep

 

You’ve been taught since childhood that getting about 8 hours of sleep per night is the ideal amount of sleep. While it is true that 8 hours of sleep is a good quantity sleep goal for most adults, what about sleep quality? Sleep quantity refers to the amount of sleep, whereas sleep quality refers to the amount of time we spend in the deep stages of sleep. 

The 5 Stages of Sleep

There are five stages of sleep: 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid eye movement). When we fall asleep, we will progress through each stage of sleep in a cyclical manner. On average, one complete cycle takes about 90-110 minutes. Once completed, we will start over with stage 1 and complete the cycle over and over again until waking. 

The first few stages of sleep are short in duration, usually about 5-15 minutes, and consist of light sleep. During these stages of sleep, body temperature drops and heart rate begins to slow down. As the body enters into stages 3 and 4, sleep begins to get a bit deeper. These are the stages in sleep which blood supply to the tissues increases. This encourages muscle growth and tissue repair. 

As the body moves into REM sleep, muscles are relaxed. As the name suggests, brain activity increases during this stage, which causes rapid eye movement. It is also during this stage that dreaming occurs. Our brain begins to store memories of things that happened during the day and makes room for new ones. Old “waste” is removed from the brain and energy is provided to the body which supports daytime performance.

What Can We Do?

Create a bedroom that is ideal for deep, restorative sleep. The bedroom should be cool, quiet, and dark. Make sure pillows and blankets are comfortable too. If the bedroom is too hot or too loud, for example, we may find ourselves waking up before we reach REM sleep.

Take diet into account as well. Alcohol can disrupt REM sleep. Although it may help us fall asleep faster, it will cause problems later on. As our body metabolizes alcohol, it interferes with our sleep cycle, shortening the duration of REM sleep. Thus, we may wake up feeling groggy after a night of drinking and sleeping a good amount. This is why it is a good idea to avoid alcohol at least 6 hours prior to bedtime. The same goes for caffeine. 

 

 

News Roundup: DoD Health Experts Want Troops to Cut Back on Energy Drinks

(Photo: Health.mil)

A recent study by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, titled "Energy drink consumption and its association with sleep problems among US service members on a combat deployment," looked at data from over 1,000 soldiers and Marines conducting operations in Afghanistan in 2010. The results found that nearly 45 percent of deployed military personnel consumed at least one energy drink daily, while nearly 14 percent reported drinking three or more per day. Those who drank three or more drinks per day experienced the worst health effects.

This week's news roundup brings to you a collection of articles and blog posts related to energy drink consumption by military personnel.

DoD Health Experts Want Troops to Cut Back on Energy Drinks. Military.com. “Energy drinks are also loaded with sugar. Some cans pack a punch of 27 grams of sugar, two-thirds of the recommended daily maximum for men, and 2 grams more than the maximum doctors recommend for women. Some service members can double or even triple that if they drink more than one energy drink per day.”

Army warns of new threat: Energy drinks. CNN. “These products generally are unregulated and can have negative side effects," the report said. "Those who drank three or more drinks a day also were more likely to report sleep disruption related to stress and illness and were more likely to fall asleep during briefings or on guard duty.”

The science behind why you should stop chugging so many energy drinks. Army.mil. “One area that's concerning to Deuster is the ingredient taurine. The chemical compound is an amino acid found in animal tissue. Many energy drink makers purport the ingredient will enhance mental and physical performance, but researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center report that little is actually known about taurine's neuroendocrine effects.”

Keep unsafe energy drinks off bases. Stars and Stripes. “In combat, these cocktails of energy drinks, workout supplements and prescription drugs can tip a troop over from just feeling on edge to having a full-fledged panic attack. A DOD study found that soldiers consuming sports supplements were more likely to seek medical attention for irregular heartbeats: Twenty percent of the troops were unable to promptly return to duty and 10 percent required aeromedical evacuation.”

Staying Active in the Winter

 

Baby, it’s cold outside! But don’t let the cooler temperatures stop you from staying active. Those who stay active in the winter experience a boost in their immune system, which helps fight off seasonal illness like the colds, the flu, and ear infections. Staying active year-round also helps to prevent weight gain and aches/pains that are associated with sedentary behavior.

If you exercise outdoors, you will reduce your chances of getting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Being outside helps reduce depression and boosts feel good endorphins. Both of which helps to reduce risk for SAD.

Having an outlet for expending energy is especially important for teens and children. Providing ideas and opportunities to be active will help prevent hearing those dreaded two words: “I’m bored”. Some ideas may be easier to cultivate interest than others (e.g. sleigh riding vs. shoveling snow).

Below is a list of ideas for the whole family.

Outside Opportunities

  • Sledding/snow tubing
  • Building a snowman
  • Snowball fight
  • Building an igloo
  • Ice skating
  • Shovel the driveway

Inside Opportunities

  • Soccer
  • Rock climbing
  • Swimming
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Laser tag
  • Hide and go seek
  • Power walking at the mall
  • House cleaning

Whether you choose to venture outside or stay indoors, there’s plenty of opportunities to stay active when it’s cold outside. Fitting in physical activity year-round can help reduce depression, maintain a healthy weight, boost immunity, and improve sleep, to name few.